EUGENE/SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Once upon a time, in an earlier recession that crippled the Sheriff's Office, other law enforcement agencies were able to step in and help the deputies. But that was 30 years ago. This summer, Lane County policing hits a new normal.
Deputies on the road will nose-dive to single digits.
"All of these are going to have impacts on law enforcement; all the communities, all the cities," said Springfield Police Chief, Jerry Smith.
It leaves city police departments like Springfield in a quandary. How can they fill the gaps in county patrols, for emergencies?
Smith told KVAL News, "I think we'll do the best we can with what we have in this county."
About 3 weeks ago Springfield Police assisted sheriff's deputies at an officer-involved shooting at Cedar Flat. That's only 2 miles away from Springfield.
The chief added, "That's not that far out of town but how far can you go? Do you go to Blue River?"
In past recessions, the Oregon State Police could be counted on for lots of back-up. That's when OSP had up to 80 troopers in the Lane County area. When asked how many officers they could spare these days Lt. Robert Edwards, in charge of the OSP's Springfield bureau, said they couldn't afford to be so helpful.
"Our current staffing does not allow us to take over all their responsibilities--nor would we want to," said Edwards.
Other county cuts resonate differently at another department, the Eugene Police.
"By far the lack of availability of jail space is the biggest concern for all of us," said Lt. Sam Kamkar of the EPD.
Chief Smith says he's confident that in most cases, outside departments will be able to help Lane County deputies on the most serious calls--but challenges will remain.
Reporter Adams asked, "How do you see this all playing out?" Smith: "I think this is a haven for criminals for the next year or so until this can be resolved."
Public safety and the Sheriff's Office are expected to take big cuts by the end of June as part of this year's Lane County budget.