Thursday, May 23, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
September 11, 2012
LAKESIDE -- Lakeside, a small town off Highway 101 on the northern end of Coos County near Coos Bay, like Falls City, is challenged with the question of how to provide law enforcement.
With a population of about 1,700 and a small tax base, the city doesn't have money to pay for its own police department.
In lieu of providing its own police, and similar to what Falls City has done in the past, the city contracted with the Coos County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) to provide a deputy for 40 hours per week.
The deputy began patrolling in October of 2008, but with no further resources through the city or sheriff's office, patrols ended about 10 months later.
Mayor Ed Gowan said current coverage by the short-staffed sheriff's office and Oregon State Police is thin.
"We are basically the last city in the county," Gowan said. "They have at times one deputy covering the whole county. They are limited in their patrol. I understand that."
CCSO applied for a grant to keep Lakeside's deputy and three others on the road, but was unsuccessful, Gowan said.
Discussions of a tax levy for law enforcement didn't reach a ballot. Gowan said in hindsight, perhaps the city should have tried harder to keep its deputy.
"That seemed to be very effective," he said. "It seemed to be a good solution. People would have a way to communicate with an officer. He was visual and very friendly to folks in town."
However, Lakeside does have an active citizens' patrol, in partnership with the nearby communities of Hauser and North Bay, that monitors the town to its best ability.
Gowan said volunteer numbers have slipped, but it still keeps in close communication with the sheriff's office.
Gowan said contracting a deputy again hasn't been a city council priority recently, but he would support having a discussion again.
"I would love to have more (police) attention," Gowan said. "I think a contract would be the way to go. I would want it if for nothing more than community involvement and education."