DALLAS, Ore. (KOIN) — The sheriff in Polk County said he will be forced to cut patrols in half on Saturday due to a lack of funding.
Polk County Sheriff Bob Wolfe said he will have to cut patrols from 20 hours a day to just ten with only two patrol officers on the street, covering 740 square miles. For crime victims, the cuts mean longer response times and some crimes getting no response at all.
“The only calls that we’ll respond to when no one is on duty will be a situation where we have a persons-to-persons crime, in other words, it’s an assault in progress (or) armed robbery,” said Wolfe.
Residents in the town of Rickreall are especially concerned about the new cuts because the town has no police force of its own and depends on Polk County deputies to keep criminals at bay.
“It’s a little bit concerning. We’re a tight community. We don’t have a lot of issues out here, but in an emergency situation, you’d like quick response times because there’s definitely a lot of people that live out in rural areas,” said Chad Hochstetler, a Rickreall resident.
Wolfe said a drastic reduction in federal timber payments and the November failure of a public safety levy put him in this situation.
Polk County Commissioner Craig Pope said with the county’s current taxes, money cannot be found elsewhere to further fund the patrols.
Wolfe said with no alternatives to cutting patrols, he must say goodbye to deputies who are leaving for other jobs because they see no future in Polk County.
However, another county’s similar problem may end up helping the force in Polk County.
The Columbia County sheriff said if their jail levy fails in May, he will close his jail and pay Polk County $250,000 a year to house inmates in Dallas.
Polk County commissioners begin their budget process nest week, but one commissioner said there is not enough money to restore the Polk County patrols.