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'Citizens Against Crime,' O'Brien Oregon Civilian Force, Organizes
10-19-2012, 10:21 PM
Post: #1
'Citizens Against Crime,' O'Brien Oregon Civilian Force, Organizes
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A failed levy vote in an Oregon county is taking a toll: government workers facing dismissal, a pending prisoner release, and crimes such as misdemeanor domestic assault and shoplifting likely to go unprosecuted.

A day after Josephine County voters resoundingly turned thumbs down on a levy to plug a $12 million budget gap, the sheriff and district attorney began handing out pink slips Wednesday, cutting staff to levels probably not seen since the region was settled during the 1850s Gold Rush.

"We're going to wreck the train here and see how we can put it back in the future," Stephen Campbell, district attorney for the Southern Oregon county, told The Associated Press.

The sizable budget gap was left by the expiration of a federal safety net for timber-reliant counties such as Josephine.

As a result of the cutbacks, the routine areas of law enforcement — drunken drivers, domestic abuse, shoplifting and car wrecks — will likely be where people see the loss of sheriff's patrols and prosecutors first.

Losing four of his nine prosecutors, Campbell is working out a list of which crimes he will be able to prosecute, and which he will not. Most misdemeanors will not be prosecuted. That includes minor assaults, such as from domestic disputes, and minor thefts. Domestic abuse rises to a felony if it is done in front of the kids. Resisting arrest will still be prosecuted, as will some drunken driving. But reckless driving, menacing, driving while suspended, probably not. Even some felonies won't go to court.

'Citizens Against Crime,' O'Brien Oregon Civilian Force, Organizes Via Facebook After Budget Cuts

O'BRIEN, Ore. -- There's no room in the county jail for burglars and thieves. And the sheriff's department in a vast, rural corner of southwest Oregon has been reduced by budget cuts to three deputies on patrol eight hours a day, five days a week.

But people in this traditionally self-reliant section of timber country aren't about to raise taxes to put more officers on the road. Instead, some folks in Josephine County, larger than the state of Rhode Island, are taking matters into their own hands – mounting flashing lights on their trucks and strapping pistols to their hips to guard communities themselves. Others have put together a virtual neighborhood watch, using Facebook to share tips and information.

"I believe in standing up for myself rather than waiting for the government to do something for me," said Sam Nichols, a retired marina manager.

Nichols has organized a posse of about a dozen fed-up residents who have started patrolling the small community of O'Brien, which has about 750 residents.

"We call ourselves the CAC Patrol, Citizens Against Crime," he said.

Separately, a retired sheriff's deputy in a community about 10 miles away has started a Facebook page called "To Catch a Thief," an open group that has nearly 1,200 members who post reports of crimes that aren't priorities for the county sheriff's office.

"In a rural community like this, we all know each other, and we're all related," said Carol Dickson, who started the group about three months ago and posts regularly.

"People know who's doing this," she said of the property crimes around Cave Junction, a town of nearly 2,000 people about 30 miles from the county seat of Grants Pass.

"They are getting tired of it," Dickson said. "They are speaking up, and they are saying, `Enough.'"

Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says he's glad for the help but warns that law enforcement is dangerous work.

"They need to really understand there are consequences that can be very costly, physically as well as legally," he said, explaining that volunteers could get sued or shot if they pull a gun on someone or make a false arrest.

JPMsecretagent, proud member of Realist News since Jun 2011.
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