EUGENE, Ore. - Just over 20 people showed up to the Hilyard Community Center Thursday night for Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner's Community Awareness Meeting. The goal? Inform the public about how the Sheriff's Office operates despite its budget issues.
Crime rates, jail beds and volunteer opportunities - nothing seemed off the table for discussion, including questions like how many patrol deputies are on the street at a given time.
"We average 3 on day shift and 3 on night shift," says Captain Byron Trapp, "But night shift doesn't go all night and day shift doesn't start early enough, so there is 8 hours every 24 hours where there is no patrol on duty."
A lack of deputies is certainly a concern, especially for the deputies themselves. Serving an area as large as Lane County can be a challenge for so few bodies on the street.
The Lane County Jail was also a popular topic. Sheriff Turner adressed the issue of why the Springfield jail is not utilized more to make up for a lack of beds. He explained that Springfield only houses misdemeanors and only healthy males.
Despite all the issues the Lane County Sheriff's Office faces, due almost entirely to funding, many who attended the meeting simply wanted to know the Sheriff's stance on Gun Laws.
"I am trying so hard just to keep our agency afloat," says Sheriff Turner. "This is the last issue that I'm concerned about."
The Sheriff stood by the statement he released earlier that said "while I understand the sense of urgency on behalf of citizens, I believe that any reaction, any decision or response to issues that impact the rights of all people should be done so without haste and after careful consideration. Ultimately, it is the Supreme Court, not any individual, that determines the constitutionality of any law."
While he did not avoid anyone's questions about his stance, Sheriff Turner did attempt to keep the focus on the main message of the meeting.
"Without any new revenue source we will simply be gone," explains Sheriff Turner, "And that is unacceptable to me because we need to be able to provide public safety here in Lane County."
Sheriff Turner plans to hold many more meetings in the future. He believes that in order to move forward the community will have to come together to help find a solution.