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Josephine County Rejects Safety Levy

Josephine County Jail

Josephine County Jail

Dave Blanchard/OPB

For the fourth time since 2012, Josephine County voters turned down a measure to increase funding for their cash-strapped sheriff’s department. The department has only six deputies on staff, after laying off 23 of them in 2012.

“The numbers weren’t too great,” says Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel about the 54-46 vote. “I expected at least for it to be a little closer than that.”

Daniel says that even though the levy was defeated, he hopes police service in the county will remain at its current “status quo.”

Federal subsidies, known as timber payments, are expected to come through early next month, and will add an estimated $2 million to the budget.

But those payments get smaller every year, and may eventually run out. Daniel says that if that happens next year, the situation there could get worse.

“I’m going to be forced with an option basically of either closing this jail and trying to outsource some jail beds somewhere or possibly just closing and shutting down my patrol division altogether,” he says.

Daniel says his priority today is to help keep spirits up at the department. “I think there has to be a bright light somewhere, and I’m just going to keep looking for it.”

But morale is low, at least for now.

“They almost feel spit upon,” Daniel says of his colleagues. “They’re hurting this morning.”

Hear more about living with limited law enforcement in Josephine County in our recent Represented episode looking at the issue.

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