Federal Cutbacks And A Failed Tax Levy Causes Major Shift In Application Of Criminal Justice in Josephine County Oregon

Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Blogger

Josephine County OregonA worrisome situation has been created in a rural Josephine County Oregon. Approximately seventy percent of the land area in the county is owned by the federal government which provided millions in revenue from timber subsidies. That source of finding for the county stopped due to a termination of payments by the federal government and in an attempt to fill a budget shortfall of over $7,500,000 the county asked the voters to fund a tax levy. The levy, which was projected to assess $300 on a $200,000 home was defeated in a narrow election. The result of the loss of both revenue sources caused a routing of the sheriff’s office budget, personnel and services.

The effect of this has led to cuts in services and patrol that has effectively led to a major transfer of the traditional roles of county policing from local government to irregular citizen’s patrols and the farming out of what little remains in the sheriff’s office to private contractors and outside agencies. Could situations like this resurrect some of the nineteenth century practices necessary in the West that are no longer compatible with twenty first century American Society?

Josephine County is in Southwest Oregon having Grants Pass as the county seat, has a population of 83,000 and encompasses 1,542 square miles. The sheriff’s office is administered by elected sheriff Gil Gilbertson.

In May of 2012 in a press release authorized by Sheriff Gilbertson the agency undertook drastic cuts in personnel and services provided. In that press release the following actions were to be taken:

  • The sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit will cease operations. Current, open criminal cases have been referred to the District Attorney’s Office, but there will be no further investigative follow-up done by sheriff’s detectives.
  • The Records Division, which fields non-emergency phone calls and completes many state-required functions, will close. Non-emergency reports may be submitted by citizens online… but the reports will simply be logged for information. There will not be any deputy follow-up or investigation.
  • The Civil Division will be reducing its hours to Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Patrol services will decrease from 20 hours a day, 7 days a week to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. The total number of patrol personnel will decrease from 24.5 to 6. Of the remaining six, one is a sergeant and three are contracted by other entities.
  • Contract deputies’ primary responsibilities are to those entities that pay their salaries – namely, the City of Cave Junction, the Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon State Marine Board. Therefore, their availability to respond to areas outside their contracts will be extremely limited.
  • Considering the quantity of high priority calls that this office receives, it is clear that patrol will only be able to respond to life threatening incidents.
  • Sheriff’s deputies will respond to life threatening calls only during patrol hours of operation, which are not being publicized for safety reasons. There are no funds available for call outs, so sheriff’s deputies will not be available to respond after hours.
  • 911 calls after hours, and if it is a life threatening situation, Oregon State Police will provide a limited response that involves eliminating the current threat.
  • Sheriff’s patrol deputies will be spread thin, and their response, even in life threatening situations, may be delayed.
  • As such, the Sheriff’s Office regretfully advises that, if you know you are in a potentially volatile situation (for example, you are a protected person in a restraining order that you believe the respondent may violate), you may want to consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services.
  • The jail will be releasing about 60 inmates to get to a level at which the decreased number of staff can safely manage the population. Further information on release procedures and times will be publicized closer to the time(s) of release, for safety reasons.

From a law enforcement perspective these cuts evoke troubling predictions of events to come. The first to be of great concern would be the cutting back of patrol hours from 20 per day to 8, 7 days to 5. One can see the systemic and trickledown effect as follows:

Many departments have callout times, which means periods of no scheduled patrol, resulting in calls to off duty officers to return to patrol to handle a priority call. Callouts usually result in overtime. Because of these service cuts swaths of 16 to 24 hours each day are not patrolled and the directive also declares during these times no deputy will be called out due to costs. Lack of patrol usually leads to increases in crime. Citizens having non-emergency calls during off times are directed to a private contract law enforcement records website. The records are collated and downloaded by the department to provide case report numbers and little else. It was indicated that no investigation would follow. Non-investigation curtails nearly completely the opportunity to arrest an offender and perhaps stopping other future crimes. When an arrest does occur there are certainly going to be booking restrictions so all but the most serious crimes will result in incarceration of the offender. Lack of response to crimes, can lead to belief among offenders of a small likelihood of arrest and will encourage crime. Lack of response also has the effect of creating a greater sense of apathy in the citizenry where they become unwilling to call the police even when they have been clearly victimized. And lastly it will certainly lead to tragedy and can foster the rise of citizens taking matters into their own hands or sew the seeds of vigilantism.

Even traditional efforts to mitigate lack of patrol resources have been curtailed. Reserve Deputies or Posse are typically used but the sheriff’s office states on their website it is no longer to have reserves patrol individually due to the high cost of gasoline and vehicle maintenance.

Sheriff Gil Gilbertson
Sheriff Gil Gilbertson

One year later, burglaries were up 50% in Grants Pass and 42% of the rest of the county. (These are cases that are actually reported) Grants Pass Public Safety Director Joe Henner commented the county is seeing a failing criminal justice system. “Our officers are saying they’re having more hostile and violent encounters with suspects, who are challenging them and fighting.” From an officer safety point of view this is dangerous; increasing violence, fewer deputies available for backup.

Total Felony and Misdemeanor prosecutions dropped from 2,400 to 1,400 due to the effect of staffing reductions in the District Attorney’s Office.

If the trend continues and crime rises it can lead to economic and civil decay that can feedback loop into less revenue and more problems for the criminal justice system. Blight causes property values and consequently tax collections to fall. Flight of residents to other areas due to crime adds to the problem along with diminishment of attracting outside investment and loss of reputation. Studies in criminology have shown that severe economic downturns usually result in increases in crime, further distressing an already crumbling criminal justice system.

As a direct result of these problems Ken Selig a former Law Enforcement Officer, forced into retirement due to budget cuts, and Pete Scaglione formed the North Valley Community Watch. The NVCW proffers to have 100 members meeting monthly to discuss crime and provide training. It also has a response team of twelve personnel who will respond to a reported non-life threatening call if summoned by one of the residents.

According to the NVCW website, they provide an umbrella service for local block watch organizations and assist citizens in reporting incidents to law enforcement. Additionally they state they can provide services to citizens through their responder service “designated to assist our members with potential problems law enforcement is unable to address”. The website parallels the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) website for using an online reporting system. JCSO hired citizenserviceportal.com for the aforementioned citizen crime reports, and NVCW created an analogue to this with their own. At the latter, a citizen can submit an e-mail requesting assistance. The website also has an architecture that is similar in many ways to a sheriff’s office website having: Links to jail inmate lists; the JCSO crime reporting site; stolen vehicle VIN checks; tax lot maps; property ownership searches; radio scanners; Oregon Revised Statutes; and Circuit Court Calendars. There is also a page where NVCW members can “NVCW members use this (upload) page to submit surveillance and evidence photos and documents to be catalogued in the NVCW database”, a form of records department. This might raise concerns about loosely organized band of citizens, taking “evidence” and other personal information can lead to risks of security and sensitive information and lack of oversight that is inherent in heavily regulated government law enforcement databases.

Several headlines in the media drew attention to the fact the NVCW provides an armed response. Oregon is a state that allows concealed weapons for licensed citizens. NVCW states its policy is to not respond to life-threatening calls and will respond to others if JCSO or OSP is unable to. It also provides services such as

The following is a list of situations the NVCW Responder Team will address for NVCW program members when law enforcement has been previously notified and indicated they will not respond:

  1. Checking and clearing business and residential buildings when the owner feels a trespasser or burglar may still be present.
  2. Responding to suspicious persons lurking in the neighbourhood so that a deterrent presence is provided.
  3. Responding to concerns that a person is trespassing on private property not open to the public.
  4. Where NVCW members have been victimized by a burglar or thief and needs assistance in reporting the crime to law enforcement.

The NVCW, according to their website, does not respond to felony calls, domestic disturbances, or civil disputes.

The situation has the potential to result in a breakdown in the traditional order of what society expects from modern law enforcement and to a certainly measurable degree has. The NVCW and other citizens groups like it are evidence of this. Having citizen agents responding to what might be a minor call such as a cold storage shed burglary has the potential to escalate instantly to a dangerous situation where the burglar was hiding and chooses and armed reaction. Furthermore the level of training of these responders, if they are ordinary citizens, is going to be substandard to those required of professional and reserve law enforcement officers. Lack of training and experience, coupled with loose background and suitability requirements will lead to problems great and small.

While the current leadership of NVCW might be good as is the case with having a retired law enforcement officer in its leadership. Lack of public oversight and events can lead to a breakdown of whatever professionalism level they might have and it could reduce towards essentially extra-legal practices.

In the “Old West” resources and the relatively rudimentary and fledgling police practices of the time relied heavily upon citizens taking matters into their own hands or forming watch groups which sometimes were as problematic as the crime they were self appointed to address.

Many remote and sparsely populated areas had a few professional law enforcement officials who relied heavily on assistance from these groups or individuals. It is a system that certainly has flaws but was the reality during the time. Are we seeing this structure about to be repeated?

The future does not look hopeful if some fundamental revenue sources are not acquired, either locally or provided by the state in the form of direct revenue or like kind contributions such as the establishment of a state police augmentation. Long term problems are inevitable. Hopefully a resolution could be found before things worsen.


Oregon Live
Josephine County Sheriff’s Office
Fox News
North Valley Citizens Watch
Josephine County Budget (PDF)

45 thoughts on “Federal Cutbacks And A Failed Tax Levy Causes Major Shift In Application Of Criminal Justice in Josephine County Oregon”

  1. Josephine County may be an example of what we will probably be seeing much more. Higher powers take an action under the guise of protecting the general welfare (restricting logging to protect an “endangered species”). In order to compensate the heavily impacted localities (Josephine County) the “higher power” initiates a subsidy system to which the impacted localities soon become dependent (addicted?). But, after a while, the higher power either looses interest or can no longer continue so the subsidy ends. “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely” – Acton. The people suffer when we let others take the power and responsibility that can only reside in individuals.

  2. If the people want a 3rd party to be responsible for their security, the market will provide it.

  3. A $7,5000,000.00 shortfall by the county? What else could the county cut? Did they cut anything else? The fastest way to get money out of the taxpayers is to cut police and fire services. Is some, any, of this a political move by the county to coerce money out of the tax payers?

    What’s the Libertarian view on something like this? If a populated area can’t exist without direct government subsidies maybe people should move, maybe there shouldn’t be so many people there. Why should some county in Oregon be different than Detroit, a city that doesn’t seem to get much love from Libertarians and Randites?

    Oky1, The NSA has a program (Targeted Access Operations) to interdict computers and laptops during delivery to load them with various malware type tracking devices:

    “Take, for example, when they intercept shipping deliveries. If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops. The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called “load stations,” agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer.”


    How much does this cost? How many state/county shortfalls could it cover. How many kids and disabled people could be fed? There’s money in the government at some level, it just depends on where it’s spent.

  4. Anon,

    Interesting but it changes little in my mind.

    How many drone flights is Obama running in Africa? Why & did congress authorize a war there?

    Why are we in NATO & paying for the supposed defense of Western Europe?

    Why are we in the UN & paying for it?

    How much is being spent on illegal NSA spying?

    For the most part I believe I understand the why questions as they are a means to break this country’s back so it can be further looted.

    Hitler’s Nazis had a Nation Police force, the Gestapo & I’ll never be interested in having one formed here.

    So I’ll keep supporting the system of county Sheriffs.

    There’s plenty of funds if the money wasn’t going to the wrong places.

  5. I live in rural JoCo near CaveJct. Burglaries are definitely up. Alcoholism is up since the mill closed. But don’t be fooled by Sherriff Gil’s letter to Biden. Gil’s been a big fan of the WarOnSomeDrugs for some time, and happily does Asset Forfeiture whenever he can. Many people around here now fear the cops more than the criminals. Burglars only target people who have fenceable toys. Low-profile retirees, not so much. The loggers are hopeless, some go from alcohol to meth, but they mostly beat up on their own.

  6. Obama/Bush/Clinton Nazi style Police State

    One of the things that make me furious with Obama/Democrat Party is that I actually supported them on many issues such gay Rights, pro choice, alternative energy & a host of other issues.

    Now that he/they have fully exposed that they are basically Nazis without the swastikas all those issues I supported are in jeopardy of being destroyed.

    We now witness the effects of our legacy institutions such as the County’s Sheriff’s Dept being systemically dismantled by the needed funds being diverted to fund an unaccountable National Gestapo Goon Squad.

    How much was that recent bill funding the MIC, $650 Billion? About a 1/3rd of the budget. How much for TSA/Fatherland Security, $80 Billion or more?

    Yet they claim there are no funds for this most important Sheriffs Dept?

    Some of you may have not noticed that back on the East Coast that there are attempts right now to disband all Sheriff Depts in the state of Delaware.

    I repeat, these actions are not happening by accident nor are they isolated incidents they are all pieces of a far larger architecture which I would have to conclude are a direct attack against us & our nation.

    Anyway here is your Chief of the Gestapo, Obama & in his own words & recall what he has now building for us:

  7. for those of you who think this is a great idea, i’m sure there is land for sale in this county.

    head’um up and move’um out

    aka, put your money where your mouths are.

  8. FYI:

    Infowars step up to the plate for a Florida Sheriff. About a month ago the local jury stood up/supported the Sheriff & against the governor.

  9. If you are truly concerned about this important issue Darren has brought to our attn the fastest way to get it addressed is to email a copy of Darren’s article to:


    Take a few minutes & just it now.

    And will see what happens.

  10. **Brad S. 1, December 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Did Josephine County lose federal funding because Sheriff Gilbertson **

    Well, cool on Sheriff Gilbertson!

    That instantly got the Sheriff support from Millions of Americans!

    (And some commie/nazi enemies)

  11. Maybe Lawyers could prearrange clients to drive through those illegal gestapo type check points & ring the cash register 50-100 times?

  12. **bettykath 1, December 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    So now the LAPD can take your saliva (dna) without warrant or probably cause. What happens if you refuse consent? **

    Many people will exercise their Legal Right & refuse. They’ll go to jail then sue. They’ll win & the leadership won’t give a dang as it’s the people themselves that will be taxed to pay the judgment award.

    We’ll be suing ourselves & LE leadership will be laughing at us.

  13. ** Otteray Scribe 1, December 29, 2013 at 8:56 am

    This is our future across the board if the small government crowd continues to cut infrastructure funds. **

    Where do we find the leadership we need OS, I’ve asked others before & was not answered.

    Yes, I still shopping for leaders I can support, I’m all ears.

    Obama/Demo party have soiled themselves so nothing there for my family or anyones family.

    And there remains a problem of insanity as defined by Uncle Albert, that many continue to hold onto the belief they can use their same opinions/actions to get us out of this mess that got us into in the 1st place.

    (That most of Ron Paul’s opinions are wrong)

    A growing rapidly smaller group continue hating on Alex Jones/Infowars, well fine.

    But those that do completely miss the far more important issues at stake.

    If Jones/Infowars were never here it would not change the Fact that these events, like with county’s Sheriffs dept, are not happening by accident.

    It’s a matter of public record that there is underway in the country groups of people in govt & Wallst that are implementing a preplanned architecture to destroy confidence in our legacy institutions, such as the USC recognized Sheriff.

    Infowars is just one of thousands that exposing that architecture to the general population.

    I’ll repost this again, Cloward-Piven Strategy, it is just one small piece of that type architecture I’m speaking of:


  14. So now the LAPD can take your saliva (dna) without warrant or probably cause. What happens if you refuse consent? If I get pulled over for erratic driving, it’s one thing, but just because I’m driving at a time and place they pick? LA is already a police state.

  15. Brad, good link. Guess the feds are letting the “independent” sheriff know what it’s like to disavow the feds. They’re putting him out of business.

  16. hskiprob 1, December 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

    In response to Dredd’s argument: Our law is supposed to protect us. “the Posse Comitatus Act. was to limit the powers of Federal government in using Federal military personnel to enforce the state laws. Posse Comitatus Act is the United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385, original at 20 Stat. 152) that was passed on June 18, 1878.

    Posse Comitatus is like the 4th Amendment.

    It says and means what the Supreme Court says it says and means.

    That is the rub.

    The chatter in the militant class (“mercenary class” – Bill Moyers) is both that Posse Comitatus is dead and that it is very alive (Will The Military Become The Police? – 3).

    In other words, it depends on situations like the one Darren posted about in this thread and what the Supremes Come up with when they talk about “security.”

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