The Curry County Commissioners have decided to ask voters for a five-year tax levy to support law enforcement services such as the Sheriff's Department, District Attorney's office and the Juvenile Department.
Even in the best of times, seeking an increase in property taxes by $2.27 per thousand dollars is a hard sell. There are very low expectations all the way around that voters will approve it, but regardless of which way you vote, make sure your decision is based on facts and not misconceptions.
The most common and persistent misconception is that there are plenty of officers patrolling our streets, roads and highways. Let's take a look at the facts:
In Brookings there are at least two officers on duty at any given time, but not in the vast unincorporated area of the county, including Harbor and north of Brookings.
There are times each day when there is only one Oregon State Police officer on patrol from one end of Curry County to the other. That officer could be in Brookings, or an hour away in Port Orford.
There are one or two Curry County Sheriff's deputies on patrol from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. There is no deputy on duty between 3 and 7 a.m.
While the dearth of law enforcement coverage at the city, county or state levels is not great, it remains thin, leaving no room for officer illness, vacation leave or vacancies. The saving grace is an existing interagency agreement in which each law enforcement agency will help one another when possible. However, that doesn't guarantee a quick response time to any major crime or emergency.
If you are comfortable with this level of law enforcement coverage, then vote accordingly. But let's make one thing clear: Our community is not flush with police officers. And the criminals know this.
The more officers on the streets the better for all of us.