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Criminal Justice

Even after 911 caller’s assault when no cops were on duty, counties vote to keep budget cuts

Posted May 24, 2013 4:15 PM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky

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Last August, a 911 dispatcher told a distressed woman caller that authorities were unable to help minutes before the woman’s ex-boyfriend broke into her home, choked and sexually assaulted her.

Despite the chilling event, two Oregon counties this week rejected property tax increases that would have funded law enforcement and public safety services, Oregon Public Radio reports.

The unidentified woman’s 911 call was forwarded to Oregon State Police because of layoffs enacted at the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office after the loss of multimillion-dollar federal subsidies, which only allows the department to be open Monday through Friday. However, the dispatcher—who stayed on the phone with the woman for more than 10 minutes before the sexual assault took place—could send no assistance.

“Once again, it’s unfortunate you guys don’t have any law enforcement out there,” the dispatcher told the female caller, Oregon Public Radio previously reported.

The sheriff’s department, which had to cut 23 deputies and the entire major crimes unit after it lost the subsidy, put out a press release at the time warning domestic violence victims to “consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services,” according to NPR. “There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t have another victim,” Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilberson told Oregon Public Radio. “If you don’t pay the bill, you don’t get the service.”

The Josephine County measure had asked the county's residents to decide on imposed tax of $1.48 per $1,000 assessed value of property for criminal justice and public safety for three years beginning 2013 and listed several potential uses, such as adding capacity to the county's jail, providing a school security program, and increasing "Sheriff's deputies' response and patrol," NPR reports. The ballot stated an approximate increase for a home with an assessed value of $150,000 would be $222 per year, or $18.50 per month, according to NPR.

Hat tip: CBS Seattle.

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