The Curry Coastal Pilot

Law enforcement officers from three different agencies descended on a stolen vehicle in the heart of downtown Brookings last week, arresting the two occupants on multiple charges.

The heavy-handed response perpetuates the perception among many residents that there are plenty of law enforcement officers on duty, ready to jump into action at a moment's notice, thus negating the need for more public funding.

There may be some truth behind the perception - as it applies to day-time incidents. However, overnight reports on the police scanner, and in the Pilot's police and sheriff logs, tell another story.

We checked with the agencies - Oregon State Police, Brookings Police Department and Curry County Sheriff's Department - and confirmed that only Brookings Police has an officer on duty 24 hours a day. The only officer on duty in all of Curry County between 3 and 7 a.m. is a Brookings officer.

Officers from other agencies are on call, but the response time is likely to be much longer given they have to get dressed and drive from their residence to the scene of an incident. It's not unusual for an on-duty sheriff deputy or OSP officer to take more than 40 minutes to get from Port Orford to an incident in Harbor.

The reason for the short staffing at night? Money.

The Oregon State Police and the Sheriff's Department endeavor to have at least one patrol officer on duty 20 hours a day, but there's no guarantee due to training requirements, vacations and restrictions on overtime.

The bottom line: Law enforcement response at night outside Brookings city limits is hit or miss.

Furthermore, paramedics with Cal-Ore Life Flight are no longer responding to calls of an injured person in certain instances until an officer arrives and secures the scene.

This is the reality of what is really happening out there - and it's likely to get worse. Seeing a multi-agency response to an incident at night is no longer the norm - it is the exception.

Question is, what are we going to do about it?