(KMTR) -- As the Lane County Sheriff's Office deals with response issues due to low staff levels that are continuing to decrease, city police forces are also preparing for the county cuts to affect their workload.
Springfield Police is one of those agencies already analyzing what cuts in Lane County will do to their coverage of public safety.
One area the department is already expecting to be impacted in is interagency support, or mutual aid agreements.
When critical emergency situations happen in Lane County, many local surrounding police agencies team up to help each other through mutual aid agreements. These agreements are common with law enforcement agencies across Oregon and the U.S.
For Springfield Police’s individual role, a good example is the recent Cedar Flat shooting east of Springfield. (Read NewsSource 16’s original report about the shooting at the following link: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Deputy-involved-Cedar-Flat-shooting-stretches/CXfs_9YQb0KamK8uFAqTYg.cspx.
Springfield Police Chief Jerry Smith says his department sent three to four units up to the area to help on that call, which was in the Lane County Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction.
Typically, mutual aid calls come in a few times a year for Springfield Police.
However, there’s new concern that the dispatches may become more frequent.
Come June 2012, the Sheriff’s Office will cut its patrol division down to “” deputies according to Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner.
With less support for the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, city police forces could find themselves being called on more often to help critical situations outside of their normal city limits.
Chief Smith says with reduced patrols for LCSO, there will be a ripple effect on every police agency.
Smith says it raises the questions “how often” and “how far” can city police forces travel to help.
“Pleasant Hill or Blue River or Lowell or Mohawk? How far can this city really stretch to respond to these emergency needs?” says Chief Smith.
“To some degree we're going to be influenced on our success by Lane County's services,” says Chief Smith.
Beyond mutual aid, Lane County Jail cuts are another concern. The Lane County Jail will cut 131 jail beds by July 1st, 2012, dropping to 230 total beds. Some have asked if the Springfield Jail could help fill that gap.
The Springfield Jail has 100 beds, but they’re only for men who’ve committed misdemeanor offenses. The jail doesn’t accept women or felony offenses due to costs associated with added jail workers and security associated with transportation costs.
Chief Smith says its unlikely that the Springfield Municipal Jail will take on felony offenders in the future because of the cost. Smith says the jail was built only with the intention of housing misdemeanor offenders.