Featured post

Support Your Community

Support Your Community

Securing Our Safety was formed in the summer of 2012 in the wake of the Josephine County budget challenges (federal timber dollars going away) that shut down a large part of our County’s criminal justice and public safety system.  SOS was formed by local business owners, community leaders, parents, retirees, and other concerned citizens to explore any and all ideas that might help address the County’s long-term needs.  The public safety situation facing the entire County is one of the largest public threats every resident of this County faces, whether you know it or not.  It doesn’t matter whether you think you can protect yourself, your family, and your belongings 24/7/365 because the fallout of our situation is affecting the safety of our roads, insurance rates, quality of life, and more.  The negative impact list goes on and on and this will eventually have an adverse effect on property values as well (if it hasn’t already).  Time is limited and we cannot afford to put our heads in the sand and wait for this situation to work itself out.

SOS is a volunteer based non-profit organization that has explored a broad range of potential solutions to make Josephine County a safer, more stable, more sustainable community, to build the alliances across disparate community groups, and to seek to restore trust and communication between local citizens and their local government.  Our mission statement is “A Citizen-voiced plan to provide for a secure, stable, and sustainable Josephine County.”  SOS has been meeting on a weekly basis for almost two years now and has built up a large email list and volunteer list.  We have been working very hard to achieve our mission because our situation is a critical one and we cannot afford to sit back and wait it out.

Of course, a “citizen-voiced plan” starts with the input from citizens and that’s exactly where we began – collecting surveys and listening to input from Josephine County residents. Not only have we found out what you want out of our local public safety systems but we found out what funding solutions you desire.  It was clear we all want to restore our criminal justice services to not only where they were a few years ago but better.  A statistical survey amounts to about 400-500 people, but we collected close to 1200 surveys of Josephine County residents quickly after our organization came together.

As we charted the course of potential solutions, it quickly became clear that there is no single or easy solution to get us back on our feet.  It also became clear that this financial and safety crisis is not just a black and white financial issue.  At its heart our challenge is a trust issue between the citizens of our great county and the local government that represents us.  We set out not only to research potential solutions, but to follow the path charted by the voice of the people.  As we began working on all the solutions that were favored by your input, we also decided a series of educational and awareness events were necessary.  Thank you to so many of you that have joined our awareness events and keep your eye out for even more.

At a simple level, we have a hole in our County’s criminal justice system of at least $12 million per year due to dwindling “federal payments.”  We have a revenue problem, plain and simple.  There are of course folks out there who say that expenses need to be cut.  What many people don’t know is the County has been reducing its total workforce just about every year for the last 10 years…little is left to cut and now we have a public safety crisis because there are no employees left to provide certain safety services.  And the public safety crisis is affecting more than just the local public safety system as funds have been diverted from other programs over the many years of decline (such as the library system) to cover the County’s safety needs.

SOS is very proud of what the draft of the citizen voiced plan looks like today after much work and research.  However, some of the solutions in the works will take time to implement (years in some cases).  The citizen-voiced plan is an intentional mix of tax and non-tax solutions that will restore health to our County and our County’s public safety system and based on all the solutions favored by your input.

SOS Citizen Voiced Plan - Smaller Logo

It was clear that the portion of the solution coming from local funding (in other words local taxes) needed to be smaller than what has been proposed before. The levy we will vote on in May 2014 will provide about $7.6 million in annual funding and that’s only temporary for 5 years.  The levy rate of $1.19 is significantly more affordable than proposals we’ve voted in in recent years, and it’s a citizen generated initiative (not something proposed by the County).  Federal payments may or may not continue, but even if they do the current level is only about $4 million per year (and many think that won’t continue).  On County owned timber land, we expect to be able to sustain larger amounts of timber harvesting, contributing close to $0.5 million more per year to the bottom line.

The lottery initiative (see www.lotterylocalcontrol.com) was also born from our research and if successful will add at least $1-$2 million more per year to our County beyond what we’re receiving per year today in total (legal/appeal delays have moved that to 2016 and the funding would begin in 2017 if approved by vote).  The SOS Hard Rock Mining Committee is charting a path to some amazing local economic development opportunities (stay tuned) and those efforts could also translate directly into the County’s bottom line because the County owns significant mineral properties.  There are ways to significantly improve local economic conditions by pursuing mineral development efforts that do not affect our beautiful local natural environment, but again this is an area that will take years to develop.  SOS has also performed or assisted with research on programs that could result in service enhancements or preventative measures such as a medically assisted treatment facility (drug & crime prevention), the Sobering Center (is now its own non-profit organization), and a Justice Court study is in the works.

Even if every one of these measures or programs is successful (add it up!), it’s clear that we still need the local contribution that the May 2014 levy would provide to the system.  We are working on many fronts, and this vote will be the bridge that restores Josephine County to the path of health.  We will continue working on all these programs after May of 2014 but we’re in trouble without the passage of this levy.

If there’s one thing we could ask of you to support your community, it would be to cast a vote this May.  Nearly 50% of local registered voters have not cast a vote in recent elections.  And if you allowed us a second request, it would be get involved in the solution and join our meetings and/or email list to help us work together as a community to keep this a great place to live.  Please visit us at www.SecuringOurSafety.org.

Jay Meredith, President and Board Chair

Securing Our Safety

walk-11

Agenda for SOS Public Meeting – April 15, 2014

Good Evening SOS,

Our next meeting will be tomorrow, Tuesday, April 15, 2014, at the Wild River Brew Pub located at 533 NE F Street, in Grants Pass, from 5:15 PM-6:15 PM.

“The main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance but to do what lies clearly at hand.” — Thomas Carlyle

AGENDA:

Sobering Center Committee Bill Landis

  • Great article in Daily Courier last week regarding the Sobering Center
  • City Council’s Decision?
  • Website Webpage Update
  • Join this Committee, e-mail Bill Landis  lb50yrs@yahoo.com

JJC Vigil Jim Goodwin
WHERE: Juvenile Justice Center in GP
WHEN: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 6:30 PM
WHO WILL BE SPEAKING? 
Retired Judge Kuhn and a person whose life was changed as a result of the Juvenile Center

Continue reading

Jails and Juvenile: Necessary for Safe Communities

Editorial by GPDPS Police Chief Bill Landis

parade-13

During the reductions in funding in Josephine County, we all have become very knowledgeable as to what happens when the criminal justice system breaks down. Research tells us that crime increases, citizens feel less safe and a sense of pride is lost in where we live. It happened here in June of 2012 and its clear that research was right. We have all felt less safe and less pride to one degree or another. In Grants Pass, we all felt the slow change to our community as an increase in vagrancy, thefts, burglaries, harassment, and an increased criminal population began to prey on our good citizens especially in the downtown.

The Grants Pass City Council understood the need for jail beds and the deterrent factor that they bring to those who commit crimes and need to be locked up. The Council entered into a “one time” 12 month contract with Josephine County to rent 20 jail beds and an additional 10 optional beds in July of 2013. My Department has taken a get tough on crime stance to return Grants Pass to that safe feeling. Grants Pass Public Safety began arresting persons committing “ANY” crimes on August 1st, 2013 and lodging them in the rented jail beds. This combined with a Nuisance Intervention Team (NIT) that has spent many hours going after criminals who commit crimes that typically in the past couldn’t have got them to jail and often would have perpetuated more of the same behavior if unchecked. Sort of the “Broken Window Theory” where we look to hold all accountable for any crimes so that they either move along or change behavior that our community in Grants Pass is tired of and won’t tolerate. In my 23 years of law enforcement here in Grants Pass, we have never been able to lodge individuals for minor offenses prior to the renting of these new beds and it has been a remarkable tool in helping to get rid of wrongdoers who need to be held accountable.

Continue reading

SOS Citizen Voiced Plan - Smaller Logo

Meeting Notes: April 8, 2014

Good Evening SOS,

“If you’ll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives.” ­ Vince Lombardi 

JJC Vigil
Jim Goodwin
Jim gave a good presentation on what the Vigil will be about and why the Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) is so important. We agreed that the JJC should actually be larger than the jail—as correcting behavior of our youth is paramount—sometimes with adults, it’s too late. The amount of homeless kids on streets—what do you do with a youth who you can’t get ahold of their parents during the night? In the past, they were placed in the Juvenile Center until Parents arrived. Now it isn’t open and there isn’t place to put them but back on the street. People don’t realize two years later that we don’t have the services for youth.

We should be changing behavior at the juvenile level – then we would need a smaller jail.

WHERE: Juvenile Justice Center in GP

WHEN: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 6:30 PM

WHO WILL BE SPEAKING? 
Possibly retired Judge Kuhn and a person whose life was changed as a result of the Juvenile Center

E-mail us if you need a Flyer for this EVENT!!!

—–

New Stat Article by Frank Morin
“State Troopers are not the Fix” is up on our website! Please go to 
www.securingoursafety.org to read it! Frank’s article has been well received and many of you have expressed a desire to make that article another OP ED as well—WHAT SAY YOU?

Here is just one of the many responses we have received from Frank’s article:
Archie,
I have been interviewed several times but have never read my interview anywhere. My response to the issue is that more presence from OSP is welcome as we go through these trying times, but should in no way be construed as a replacement of a counties justice system. We do need to resolve our current situation and find a level of protection and service that we can agree on.

Thanks for all of your help in this very important issue. I think if we can get the facts out to the people we will make progress solving our public safety issue.

Senator Herman Baertschiger Jr.

Great point Senator! Great job Frank! In Frank’s next article, he will factually be tracking the number of Measure 11 Crimes that have occurred in Josephine County since the depletion of our Criminal Justice System. As we know, we the depletion of the Sheriff’s Office and rural patrols, communication in the entire County has suffered. Frank will explain what Measure 11 Crimes in Oregon are and examine not only if there is an actual increase in the number of Measure 11 Crimes in our County, but whether the Measure 11 Crimes have increased in the City of Grants Pass. 

SOS Citizen Voiced Plan - Smaller Logo

Agenda for SOS Public Meeting – Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Good Evening SOS,

“If you’ll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives.” — Vince Lombardi

Tomorrow’s Meeting, Tuesday, April 8, 2014, will be at the Newman United Methodist Church, located at 132 NE “B” Street in Grants Pass, from 5:15 PM-6:15 PM.

AGENDA:

Timber Committee

Jim Frick

—–

Sobering Center Committee

Bill Landis

  • Website Webpage Update
  • Join this Committee, e-mail Bill Landis @ lb50yrs@yahoo.com

Why the Jail is an effective tool (How efforts to clean up the Downtown area have been successful, using the jail and the 30 beds as a tool) Bill Landis

Continue reading

State Troopers are Not the Fix for Our Police Short-Fall

Frank

By Frank Morin

 

 

 

image002Some reports floating around Oregon claim that our local justice worries are over.  Apparently, since voters in our county have chosen not to fund the justice system, the state is going to fill in the gap and provide the services for us.

For example, an article from the Associated Press makes it sound like troopers are flooding in to make up the short-fall, and was quoted by several news outlets including The Register-Guard  (See http://www.registerguard.com/rg/news/31273599-76/county-josephine-state-troopers-cases.html.csp)

and The Bulletin:  http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/1871682-151/sheriffs-gap-in-josephine-county-currently-being-filled#

Although it is true that the state police have responded to many calls for assistance and have tried to shoulder as much of the overflow burden as possible, they cannot provide nearly the level of service required now that the Sheriff’s department is all but shut down.

Continue reading

Walking for Justice!

Notes from SOS Public Meeting – April 1, 2014

Good Morning SOS, thank you for your tenacity and your efforts to make our home safe.

—–

Meeting NOTES:
Lottery Committee UPDATE
  • Where Is Cliff?  In the meeting room – he came home

  • Cliff Thomason reported:

  • We can be on the ballot for 2014, but major prosective donors want to wait until 2016 ballot

  • Recommends refiling for the 2016 election to make sure this initiative is done right
  • In July submit ballot again after getting 1000 signatures outside Josephine County
  • Then, once back on the ballot, we need to get 150,000+ signatures around the state (we will have closer to 2 years to make this happen and it will be a more affordable, more true grassroots campaign)

  • Will have help doing this as Cliff has and shall continue to identify people in each county to help
  • Largest donors want to wait until 2016 so their money isn’t wasted

  • We could start rewriting the ballot wording this week and potentially start getting signatures in the next few weeks

  • Cliff will be in charge of getting the NEW 1,000 signatures for the resubmission
  • April 17th, the Lottery Committee will be making a presentation to the Gresham City Neighborhood Association in Multnomah County

  • WE voted to move the ballot to the 2016 Election

  • WE voted that we want Cliff to stay on the road and to develop an SOS outpost in each of the 36 counties

  • Gordon Edstrom, our Webmaster, will make a map of all of the Oregon Counties and fill them in once a SOS Outpost has been established

  • These Outposts shall be included in all Josephine County SOS events and we shall offer each other support and serve as a network to achieve our MISSIONA citizen-voiced plan to provide for a secure, stable and sustainable Josephine County,” which we hope will be adopted by each respective county, inserting their own name for Josephine County
  • Cliff will be presenting us with a Strategic Plan at next meeting so we can begin this exciting trek to unite all of our counties! Continue reading
SOS WALK (4)

Agenda for SOS Public Meeting – Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Our next meeting is today, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, at the Wild River Brew Pub located at 533 NE F Street, in Grants Pass, from 5:15 PM—6:15 PM.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” — Mary Anne Radmacher

AGENDA:

Lottery CommitteeCliff Thomason/Jay Meredith

http://www.lotterylocalcontrol.com/news.html

  • WHERE IS CLIFF? Follow Cliff’s daily travels on Cliff’s BLOG which you can access from our website: www.securingoursafety.org

  • This effort needs: 150,000 signatures by July 3, 2014
  • Do we wait until 2016? If so, when do we start?
  • SOS in every county?
  • July Fundraising Event “Cops and Robbers” Ball?
  • WHAT SAY YOU?

Join this committee clifft9@gmail.com

Jail/Juvenile Justice Levy Committee UPDATE  Pat Fahey Continue reading

walk-23

Notes From SOS Public Meetings 3-18-14 and 3-25-14

Good Evening SOS,

Fall seven times, stand up eight. – Chinese Proverb

Here are the notes from the past two meetings:

Saturday Market Stand Sign-Ups

We agreed that at the normal SOS Saturday Market Booth, as well as at any event SOS sponsors, we need to ensure that we have: 1) SOS Committee brochures, ie. MAT-C Opiate Awareness, Lottery Committee, etc.; SOS E-Mail Sign-Up sheet; SOS T-Shirts and the SOS Signs

It was agreed that due to the overwhelming political campaigning going on at the entrance to the Saturday Market, some coined as a political “gauntlet”, that SOS would refrain from any additional Saturday Market participation until after the MAY election!

Jail/Juvenile Justice Levy Committee Pat Fahey discussed the following committees: Continue reading