I would like to welcome all of our new members and say hello to all of our other partners/members who help make the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association (OSSA) and this magazine possible. 2019 has been interesting so far. The legislative session is in full swing and has been keeping several of us very busy, which I will touch on later.
In addition to the legislative session, we have been busy with all of our councils and their conferences/trainings, planning the sheriff’s semiannual board meeting, our Deputies Academy, and Command College. Several of our councils are in full swing and have already held multiple conferences/trainings.
This year is becoming a bittersweet year as we see several sheriffs and others leave our ranks. Lane County Sheriff Byron Trapp retired in April, and Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers retires July 1st. There are others planning to retire this year; however, we are waiting to announce those. I personally will miss these great leaders, peers, and most importantly, friends. OSSA will be saying goodbye to our longest-standing employee in the office. Vicky Knutson, our financial specialist and membership coordinator, will be retiring in August after 30 years of service to the Oregon Sheriffs and OSSA. She is going to be greatly missed.
Now, let’s talk about the legislative session and where we are at with our funding priorities. OSSA believes we need the following critical public safety funding to be a priority for the 2019 legislative session. Unlike any other budget sector, properly funding these key priorities will help to ensure the interdependent parts of the public safety system function together to deliver justice and safety to all the Oregonians who depend on us.
OSSA believes the Community Corrections Baseline Fund needs to be at the 2018 actual cost study amount. Community Corrections Baseline Fund provides funding for supervision, sanctions, and services in each local county for individuals who are on probation and post-prison supervision. This funding is a priority for the sheriffs as it serves as the foundation for community supervision, which is one of the cornerstones of public safety in each of our local communities. Community Corrections Funding in the Governor’s recommended budget is approximately 50 million dollars less than the actual cost study amount. This amount will result in a reduction of supervision services across the state.
OSSA supports the Governor’s recommended budget amount for the Justice Reinvestment Fund. This fund shares the money that is saved by not having to build new prisons with programs in our local communities that are aimed at reducing recidivism, enhancing community safety, and lowering prison admissions. This program is the second floor of the house when it comes to Community Corrections. For this program to continue achieving the outstanding results it has achieved since 2013, Community Corrections funding (the foundation) must be fully funded.
OSSA supports the Governor’s recommended budget for the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). DPSST provides training and regulatory oversight of all public safety professionals in our state. Ensuring that our police officers are properly trained and certified is critical to positive policing results and services that we provide to Oregonians. DPSST is one of the best training facilities in the nation and has been a great partner with OSSA.
OSSA supports the Governor’s recommended budget for the Oregon State Police (OSP). Currently, OSP is ranked 48 out of 49 states with highway patrol functions in officers per 100,000 population. Our city and county law enforcement have the lowest number of officers per 100,000 in the United States. In addition, the Oregon State Police provide a critical public safety service to all of law enforcement in the way of crime lab services.
OSSA strongly supports the Stolen Vehicle Statutory Fix in HB 2328. This measure closes a loophole in Oregon law that was created by court decisions which makes successful prosecution of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle all but impossible. This bill will modify culpable mental state for a crime of unauthorized use of a vehicle when a person takes, operates, exercises control over or otherwise uses a vehicle without the consent of the owner. Without it, our epidemic of stolen vehicle property crime will continue to grow.
One of our other top priorities is Behavioral Health Investments. Over the years, our public safety system has become the de-facto mental health system. Our local public safety systems are not designed or intended to treat individuals who are struggling with behavioral/mental health illness. Any funding, grants or investments that can be directed to our counties for the use in establishing community-based behavioral health services that are aimed at helping individuals stay out of the public safety system is greatly needed.
Last but certainly not least are the firearm/gun bills. OSSA has been actively working with the legislature since day one of the session on the firearm/gun bills. While we have been successful in getting numerous portions re-worked, we still cannot support these bills. We will continue to work in getting these bills re-done, modified, or dismissed.
These are the funding priorities I wanted to highlight in this session, even though there are many other issues such as school safety that we are working on. I want to say thank you to Kevin Campbell and Sheriff Myers for all of their hard work during this session and to all of the sheriffs who have come to testify at the capitol on these bills.
Thank you to all of our members.