Polk County Sheriff’s Office reducing staff again

The Polk County Sheriff's Office has suffered multiple staff reductions due to funding restrictions, June 3, 2014. (KOIN 6)
The Polk County Sheriff's Office has suffered multiple staff reductions due to funding restrictions, June 3, 2014. (KOIN 6)

POLK COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The sheriff of Polk County said more cuts are coming for his office after the passage of a jail levy by the citizens of Columbia County.

Polk County Sheriff Bob Wolfe said their budget adopted on May 14 included rental income from Columbia County inmates who they expected to be housed in the Polk County Jail.

“We budgeted money from Columbia County renting jail beds to keep from laying off additional employees at Polk County. Now, I must make additional reductions to the patrol division,” said Wolfe in a written statement.

Now, after citizens passed a levy to maintain operations of the Columbia County Jail, the additional $300,000 expected to come from the jail bed rentals will not be coming into Polk County, Wolfe explained.

“We had hoped to return patrols back to at least 20 hours per day – that will not happen. We will remain with patrols working only 10 hours per day,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe reduced patrols to 10 hours per day on March 29 due to funding restrictions and since then, 332 calls from people between 10 p.m. to noon have been impacted with no deputies available to respond.

The loss of revenue also will reduce the current eight deputies to just six, Wolfe said. Two deputies have already been informed that they will no longer work for the sheriff’s office come July, Wolfe added.

“I already cut four deputies out of my budget this year.Now, I have to cut two additional deputies,” said Wolfe.

According to Wolfe, unless there is a way to stabilize the office’s funding before July 2015, more patrol reductions are likely.

Polk County, however, isn’t alone in its patrol reductions. Twenty-one of Oregon’s 36 counties do not have 24 hour patrols, citing dwindling resources and federal timber payments.

“The average citizen that never has contact with law enforcement – it’s not a big thing. But what about your family member, or you’re involved in a crash and there’s a delayed response?” Wolfe said.

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