Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
March 05, 2013
POLK COUNTY -- Due to anticipated budget cuts and staffing changes, the Polk County Sheriff's Office will no longer be patrolling the county 24 hours per day.
Polk County Sheriff Bob Wolfe announced Friday that the patrol reduction is effective starting Monday.
"For the first time since the early 1980s, Polk County deputies will not be patrolling 24 hours per day," Wolfe said.
The office was expecting to have to cut five patrol deputy positions in July as a result of impending county budget reductions, estimated at $800,000 to $1 million.
Facing layoffs, deputies have been looking for work elsewhere. As a result, three deputies have either resigned, been offered another position, or transferred to the Polk County Jail division.
Polk County most likely will be asking county residents to pass a levy to support law enforcement in November. However, if that levy were to pass, tax revenue wouldn't be available until the 2014-15 fiscal year, too late to save positions at risk in the sheriff's office -- or any other department -- in the next fiscal year.
Starting Monday, the patrol division schedule will be adjusted to two 10-hour shifts, with a 4-hour gap.
Wolfe was on staff during the 1980s when he was the only officer on call in the middle of the night.
The situation won't be quite that bad this time, but it's still worrisome for Wolfe.
The no-patrol hours will be during the day, which means a detective, patrol lieutenant or even Wolfe himself will be in the office during the week to respond to urgent calls. On weekends, a sergeant and woods patrol deputy will be available.
It's likely response times will be slower, perhaps up to 30 minutes depending on the location, even on urgent calls.
"All other calls not involving crimes in progress will be held by dispatch until the next shift begins," Wolfe said.
Just two deputies will be on each shift, which is the minimum Wolfe will allow.
"I will not send any deputy to a high priority call unless they have backup for officer safety reasons," Wolfe said.
Wolfe said he will be keeping an officer on the Polk County Interagency Narcotics Team, but has notified the Oregon State Police and other neighboring agencies about its reduced patrol hours. Patrols in the Grand Ronde area, provided through a contract with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, will remain at 24 hours per day unless a deputy is sick or on vacation.
Also in July, the office will only have one detective, which means deputies will have to perform more investigative work, as well.
"Patrol will be doing more follow-ups and spending less time on proactive patrol," Wolfe said.