Port ponders police contract with city, other options
Written by Don Iler, Pilot staff writer   
August 23, 2013 06:26 pm

While the Brookings City Council approved a proposed contract to provide police services to the Port of Brookings Harbor, the port commission still has not approved the contract and has been considering other options for policing the port.

Gary Milliman said the city council has approved the proposal to enter into police services, but whether the port commission decides to go forward with it is entirely up to them.

 

“We’re in the research stage. It’s not a done deal and we’ll vote at the next port meeting,” said Sue Gold, port commissioner. “There are several options out there. Nothing has been decided.”

In the meantime, the Curry County Sheriff’s Department will be moving its Harbor substation to the port, and it will be operational by Sept. 15. Additionally, Sheriff John Bishop says he has reserves patrolling at the port and his deputies patrolling as much as they can.

Moving the substation is not costing the Sheriff’s Department, as the new substation location is owned by the port and it will not be charging the Sheriff’s Department rent. 

“It’s not a huge call load down there, but we do have some issues, like theft and transient issues,” Bishop said. 

By moving the substation down to the port, Bishop hopes the extra presence will act as a deterrent and cut down on crime.

The Sheriff’s Department currently has responsibility for policing at the port, but because of budget problems at the county level, only four deputies patrol the entire county. 

Port Commissioner Jim Relaford, who is favor of having the city police the port and has been in communication with the city about the contract, said he thinks the port still needs additional policing until the Sheriff’s Department get its funding situation figured out. 

“The port has a need for policing and the sheriff cannot provide policing,” Relaford said. “There are no additional resources coming from having the sheriff’s substation down there.”

Port Director Ted Fitzgerald said research was still being conducted as to how much additional policing was needed at the port. He said the port has installed a substantial amount of fencing and was looking at installing additional video surveillance cameras. 

“Our goal is to keep the port nice and safe but to also keep it affordable for the port and its customers,” Fitzgerald said.

At the July 16 port meeting, commissioners heard the proposal from the City of Brookings to provide additional patrols at the port from the Brookings Police Department. However, commissioners did not move to approve the proposal. The proposal would cost the port around $66,000 annually. 

Audience members also suggested other ideas, ranging from installing more fences and cameras, to establishing a police services district for the port and harbor area to increase public safety and police patrols in the area. 

The Port of Brookings Harbor is in the unincorporated part of Curry County and is not part of the City of Brookings. While there have been efforts in the past to annex the port and the community of Harbor into the city, they have not been successful. 

The port commission will hold its next meeting Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Best Western in Harbor.