October 21, 2008
Stewart presided with Commissioner Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Bobby Green, Sr.
and Peter Sorenson present. Bill
Dwyer arrived at 10:40 a.m. Peter
Sorenson left the meeting at 10:45 a.m. and returned at 11:11 a.m.
County Administrator Jeff Spartz, County Counsel Liane Richardson and
Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
TO THE AGENDA
Mike Taylo, Springfield, raised a question on what the Sheriffís daily cost is for
jailing someone. He thought the
real number was about $105 per day. He
wanted to see real numbers and the understanding of what value he gets for his
Carol Berg Caldwell, Eugene, believed the allocation of Secure Rural
Schools money should be spent on prevention instead of jail beds.
She thought that was more humane.
County Public Safety Needs.
Mary Ann Beardon,
Judge, explained that from a Courtís perspective, they have many concerns
about the situation as it exists today. She
indicated that they cannot comply with laws from the legislature for pre-trial
releases because of overcrowding due to the layoffs from July 1.
She added that it is difficult for staff on a daily basis to release
people into the community who are of a substantial danger.
She commented that the number of domestic violence felons is staggering.
She added that there is an explosion of domestic violence homicides.
She stated that there is a legal risk to the County if funding is not
restored for jail beds. She
commented that there is no accountability in sentences and the shortage of beds
cause all alternative programs to fail. She
stated that it is a grave legal risk to the County for risk management.
that what they are getting from treatment providers is that the offenders
wonít go into treatment because the word on the street is clear; there is no
accountability and nothing will happen to them. She said the violent crime rates are up 15 percent in this
area this year. She said the reason
is they canít hold violent felons pre-trial because they donít have a full
range of options at the jail up to and including hard jail beds.
She commented that Drug Court only works if a jail bed is there for
sanctions. She stated that none of their alternative treatment programs work
unless they have a full range of alternatives to back them up, otherwise there
are no incentives. She recalled
that due to failure of capacity, 1,703 people in the months of June, July,
August and September were released into the community.
She said it was a waste of everyoneís resources.
She said they spend County resources holding the same people over until
they can get something done to get the person into a program.
She noted that some of the federal timber money has been restored and if
a good chunk doesnít go back to public safety so they can deal with the some
of the issues; there is a serious risk to the community and a liability to the
Beardon said they
have to deal with the moral issue about innocent people being hurt and sexual
predators preying on children. She
stated that they canít run the system at the current level. She indicated that they were in triage mode a year ago
and they are currently in chaos in the legal system because of the capacity
issue. She said when they are
talking about sentenced offenders in Lane County who are not going to the
Department of Corrections; they are going to jail and will be released the same
day, because of the shortage of resources in the District Attorneyís office.
Fleenor asked how
they justify a society that doesnít provide public safety.
He commented that the only thing higher than public safety is maintaining
the highest level of fiscal responsibility.
He said that any government that becomes bankrupt as a result of bad
fiscal policies cannot provide public safety under any circumstances.
He stated that they needed to be careful to maintain the balance between
fiscal responsibility and providing public safety.
He asked if the limited resources available are being appropriately spent
on the publicís behalf. He asked
if every dollar they were putting into public safety was increasing public
safety to the system. He commented
that over the past 20 years crime has been going down.
He said they need to find a solution with a perspective of historical
data and the resources available now and in the future.
He said they have $177 million in debt of which $133 million is a PERS
bond and retiree medical obligations that is costing the County about $5 million
per year in interest only. He asked
how much public safety they could buy with $5 million per year for the next 40
years where the bonds would remain active. He said these are questions they have to answer in the
context of how much money should they put into public safety and what should
they expect as a society.
Sorenson asked what
sources of information Beardon could recommend to help them make a good
that statistics are controlled by the filing of cases from the District
Attorneyís office. She added that
the District Attorney has cut back on misdemeanor cases.
She said the workload has not slowed down because the misdemeanor cases
they are filing cause all the work (domestic cases and DUII cases).
about the workload and the challenges the Circuit Court faces.
Beardon noted the
types of felony cases being filed are the ones that scare people the most:
armed intruder burglaries, sex crimes and homicides.
She added that they have had more homicides in the last year.
Liz Rambo, Circuit
Court, explained that the court numbers are driven by what the District Attorney
is able to file and what portion of sentences are able to be served.
She added that all statistics are driven by different agencies and case
that they have three years of money and they have a structural deficit.
He asked what amount of money should be put in the prevention side for
the long term stability of the public safety system over the next eight years.
Beardon said she
tries to enforce laws and she canít enforce laws now because of the lack of
capacity. She said it is
frustrating because they know the criminals need treatment. She hoped the Board could find a way to restore enough
capacity at all levels with beds so they can run the system at a rate that is
barely functional. She commented
that currently they are not barely functioning, they are broken.
She stated that they need enough credibility in the system to address
some of the needs of the people and they donít have it.
She thought they would lose valuable treatment programs because people
are not going to volunteer to go into treatment.
Fleenor asked why
the United States has three million people incarcerated, more than any other
country in the world. He commented
that they are creating laws that are making people criminals and putting them in
Beardon said they
could work in Salem with the state legislators. She said the sex abuse of children should be
criminalized as well as driving under the influence of intoxicants. She added that criminals who commit serious domestic violence
crimes, armed burglaries and rape, are not incarcerated for a lot of those
crimes but citizens think they are.
Fleenor was more
interested in getting a bang for his dollar.
He asked if they put more money into the criminal justice system and law
enforcement if the citizens would be safer.
He thought that was a dialogue that was needed with citizens at the local
level. He believed in states rights
and local control. He commented
that Salem can dictate all they want but Lane County has a limited amount of
resources to carry out the mandates from the federal and state government.
Assistant District Attorney, commented that they are scrambling to mitigate the
damage being caused. He said they
are not bringing back criminals from other jurisdictions, contrary to their
obligations under an interstate compact. He
said the governorís office covers the cost of bringing back all of the most
serious felons. He said they call
Lane County to see if they could hold the person, but most of the time they say
no and the governorís office wonít pay. He added even if the governorís office will pay, the person
will come back and be bounced out of the jail and burglarize the community more.
He said it is not a net benefit to the community.
He added that their warrant value has increased.
He said there used to be about 900 warrants per month and they are down
to 500 per month. He stated they
are doing everything they can to reduce the stress on the community and the jail
by focusing on the people who are the most dangerous.
Gardner said if the
Sheriffís Office had the staff to investigate the 2,000 property crimes a year
that get no response and if the District Attorney goes back to using the Grand
Jury the way it is used in every other jurisdiction in Oregon and enforcing
probation violations, it would mean nothing in Lane County because people
wonít pay restitution and there will be an order from the Court they canít
enforce. He indicated that judges
wonít violate someone for non-payment and even if they did, there would be no
sanction for it, it would be bounced out of the jail without consequence.
He was asked what they do when the jail is overflowing with people who
are victimizing the citizens in the community.
He stated that violent people are being let out of the jail. He
said in spite of the fact the system is dysfunctional, (and the demographic in
the country is driving crime rates down) the average of the three largest metro
areas in Oregon is dropping, but Eugeneís crime rate is rising because they
arenít doing anything they are supposed to do.
He commented that they are not doing the absolute basics that any
responsible society does. He
understands the County canít do everything but he said there is $10 million
per year from the general fund that could be applied to public safety.
He commented that if that money is applied to the Sheriffís Office,
they would have more safety. He
thought every dollar that goes into public safety would have a greater benefit
than putting it toward the Extension Service or LCAS. He commented that if the number one priority is financial
stability and the number two priority is public safety, then they are at the end
of their rope.
that putting $10 million into public safety is a temporary solution to a long
term problem. He said taking care
of the structural deficit is important. He
wanted to start paying down the debt and stop incurring more debt.
He said they have to look at how they are running their society.
He said that Salem needs to help bail Lane County out.
that the thought of Fleenor contemplating not wanting to buy something other
than protecting the society for four years, brings anxiety.
Fleenor said the
future Lane County citizens need to think about this one time last timber
Springfield Police Department, reported that Springfield is building a jail and
they shouldnít be in the jail business because it is not their responsibility.
He commented that the failure to appear problem is hurting them.
He noted that the failure to appear cost for local law enforcement is
$4.5 million per year, half of his budget.
He indicated that 1,703 people didnít show up to appear in court.
He commented that the pressure is tremendous on local officers to not
arrest them because they wonít show up. He
noted that 10 percent of the officersí time in the field is spent serving
warrants. He added that didnít
count staff time required in the other components of the system that could be
recovered if they repair the failure to appear problem.
He noted that five municipalities in Lane County have jails and they
shouldnít have them. His
expectation is that two years from now, the City of Springfield will experience
a huge up tick in crime. He added
that there is a lot of under reported crime because people have given up and
wonít report it. He commented
that there will be a false sense in Springfield that once the jail is up and
running they will have some sense of hope and might start reporting again.
He didnít think that all of the social programs they have could have
any affect unless there is enough capacity at the jail. He asked for the County to bring the jail back on board to
Fleenor said he was
told that peopleís sense of safety is based upon the newspaper they read that
day. He thought it had little to do
with the feeling of being unsafe. He
said it is a perception they get from the media. He commented that it is a mass promotion of sensationalism.
He noted that for every crime he reads about he gets panicky about his
personal safety. He didnít think
that was the measure they should determine whether their public safety system is
functioning correctly from the perspective of the citizens.
He asked if any polls have been issued to the citizens of Lane County
asking them what it really means to be safe.
He asked if the Lane County public safety system is delivering what it is
to be safe. He commented that a lot
of people are not victims of crime. He
said there is a perception by the citizens at large as to what it means to be
they do a safety survey annually in Springfield.
He recalled Lane County had focus groups in the past discussing these
issues. He agreed that safety is
closer to home to the individual. He
thought feeling safe was different for each individual. He said it is widely known with the criminal element in Lane
County that the system is a joke and it is failing.
Eugene Police Department, stated that last Friday he sent e-mails to his
supervisors asking about the problems with the jail beds being closed down.
He said indicated that the downtown corridor is experiencing problems
with criminal activity and drugs. He
added there are also assaults and unsavory elements.
He commented that they are attracting people to the County, but for the
wrong reason. He reiterated there
are no consequences for peopleís actions.
He noted in 85 percent of the cases, they issue a citation for people to
appear in court in lieu of taking them to jail.
He said in the downtown area, whenever they are forced to make an arrest,
there is a crowd of people. He
commented that a lot of the crimes downtown are low level crime unless someone
is the victim. He stated that it is
demoralizing for an officer that the work they are doing is for not. He said they put a person in jail and before they are done
with the paperwork, the bad guy is back on the street. He indicated what has been difficult for them is to get their
officers to continue to do the job they are paid to do and do it right and not
cut corners. He said they have to
keep their employees pumped up wanting to do their job and it has been
difficult. He said the people they
work for expect them to try to do something to fix the problem.
District Attorney, recalled in 1995 the criminal justice system was analyzed and
violent crime was down in Oregon. He
said they could argue that Measure 11 had affected the criminal justice system.
He commented that when people are in prison, they are not victimizing
citizens. He indicated that they
need to consider what happens on November 4 with ballot measures.
Green asked what
the average number of police officers per capita there are at the City of
Stronach said there
are 1.9 to 2 officers per thousand for Oregon, one of the lowest in the nation.
He added that Eugene is at 1.2 per thousand and are at the lowest of the
Green asked if the
City of Eugene in its last budget cycle increased officers.
that they had authorization to add four officers. He said they have the authorization but with the Hynix issue
they will end up having to freeze the positions and they wonít realize the
Green was concerned
about the system. He said they have
worked so hard since 1995 on SB 1145 to add a system in place that would give
accountability with the other components. He
asked how they restore the publicís confidence in the public safety system.
He said they have to address the structural deficit and they do that when
there is stable revenue. He thought they could approach it incrementally.
He recalled since 1995 he has been working with the sixth police chief
and the sixth city manager. He
indicated that they try to work on public safety issues intergovernmentally. He said they are not approaching an assemblance of
accountability. He commented that
they restore the public confidence by holding the people accountable for what
they do. He said they need a tool
that says it is not okay to commit crimes.
He said he hears the system is failing and until they get a grip on it,
the public will reject what the Board does.
He said the public is looking at the Countyís strapped budget and they
are also looking for the Countyís priorities.
He commented that if they donít make public safety a priority, they
will continue to lose the citizensí confidence.
Cottage Grove Police Department, recalled that 23 years ago they opened up the
municipal jail because they were running into the same problem they have today.
He said they were not holding people accountable for the crimes they were
committing, no matter how small or large. He
said they had the ability to take felonies to Lane County and they were
prosecuted. He stated that they
donít have that ability anymore. He
said all cities have municipal jails they hold people in because of the same
problem with the jails and holding people accountable for what they do. He said if they donít take care of the small crimes, the
big crimes will come after the small crimes.
He said Cottage Grove has accepted the responsibility to put the people
in jail and they have an exclusionary rule for parks. He commented that bad guys
donít commit crimes if they are in jail.
He stated that by Lane County not providing adequate jail space, they are
defeating the purpose of law enforcement. He
commented that the people of Lane County need to realize that with crime there
are certain responsibilities and if they want to be safe, they have to pay for
(Dwyer arrived at
10:45 a.m.) (Sorenson left at 10:45 a.m. and returned at 11:11 a.m.)
that without federal payments, the citizens want security and he thought at some
point they will be able to understand that someone has to pay for it and it is
going to be them. He commented that
whenever they get an infusion of cash they create dissention because they have
other responsibilities besides public safety.
He didnít think Congress allocated the money to reserve it.
He said Congress gave them money to meet the pressing needs of the
community and unless they meet those needs, they will never be able to go to
Congress again. He said they need
to reserve some money. He said historically the Sheriff had been funded by serial
levies. He thought levies in the
future were a way to get as close to parity as they can depending on how people
feel about their safety. He agreed
that without sanctions, they have nothing.
He didnít think they would ever reach an optimum level, but they have
to do better. He said they have to
spread the money around and balance public safety to get the best bang for the
buck with what they have for the longest period and have some reserve for the
With regard to the
timber payments, Fleenor had a difference of opinion. He doesnít think paying down their debt will be a
reflection of bad intent. He said
when it comes to local levels; they have every obligation to act properly and if
that means paying down debt that is what they should do.
Officer Hinkle, Oregon State Police, explained that the current system to state
police and their resources in the Springfield office puts three to four troopers
per shift, two shifts per day on the road.
He indicated that it resulted between 10 and 15 DUII arrests per week.
He said the trend they are seeing is getting more warrant arrests than
DUII arrests. He said the troopers are now spending an inordinate amount of
time processing the warrants instead of removing the intoxicated drivers from
the roadways. He commented that
doesnít enhance transportation safety for OSP.
He indicated that people are out there to re-commit crimes.
Sheriff, said everyone has heard how dysfunctional Lane Countyís public safety
system is. He understands the
fiscal reality with the short term bailout from the federal timber payments.
He commented that every dollar put into corrections capacity where they
currently are, translates into increased public safety.
He said they will get to the point that as they add capacity to the
correction system, people arenít as dangerous to the community, but they are
below the threshold and everyone they are releasing should not be released into
the community. He commented that
things will be bad for awhile even if they add a little capacity back. He said the system will not be whole. He said they need to find a long term solution to a problem
that is long term. He commented
that it is 40 years of different variables creating a problem. He said collectively he asked that the Board, the county
administrator, the District Attorney and he try to find a solution that will be
long term. He said they are all in
this together and they need to find a solution.
Dwyer said they
have to be prudent about how they spend the money.
He recalled that the last time they received the money they had Title II
and Title III funds. He added that
they were allowed to use Title II and Title III to fund the Forest Work Camp,
the Dunes deputy, search and rescue and the timber deputy.
He recalled when they didnítí get the money, those things went away.
He said now that they have the money, they are not allowed to do the same
thing. He stated that people
in his district want safety and that when someone commits a crime that the
police will arrive and there will be sanctions.
He was not committed to spending all of the money.
Fleenor asked if
every dollar invested will produce a proportionate reduction in crime or if they
reach a point of diminishing returns. He
asked the Sheriff and others in law enforcement to come back with a new vision.
He asked what they could do if they came back to the citizens of Lane
County with a vision and a whole new courthouse and correctional facility
properly designed that was state of the art.
He asked how much they would save. He wanted to explore operations.
He stated they could do a better job with the system they have.
He wanted a new vision as they move forward.
that people donít want to pay for the current system they have.
He didnít think they could develop a vision that encompasses a new
courthouse and a jail they can afford to pay for.
Stewart stated that
he has been on the Public Safety Coordinating Council for the past four years
and he hears the conversations are getting worse. He thought it was important to bring these people together to
give the Board the knowledge about what is taking place.
He recalled they drastically reduced their budget July 1 that had an
affect on the system and they have witnessed four months of operations at the
lower level. He wanted to have a conversation about moving forward.
TO THE BOARD
Commissioner Stewart recessed the meeting into Executive Session at 11:30