Oregon Sheriffs Have $100K to Fight Legal Weed, But Not Rape
In August of 2012, a woman in Southern Oregon called 911 at 5am on a Saturday. The response she got to her frantic plea for protection sent chills down the spine of every woman who heard the recording of the 911 call that was released In May of 2013.
“My ex-boyfriend is trying to break into my house,” the woman explained to the 911 operator. “I’m not letting him in, but he’s, like, tried to break down the door and he’s trying to break into one of the windows.”
The 911 operator does her best to handle the situation as the woman described the terror she was facing. “He put me in the hospital a few weeks ago and I’ve been trying to keep him away,” she tells the operator, as we can hear the sounds of her ex-boyfriend pounding and wailing from the outside.
Shockingly, the operator cannot send any of the county sheriff’s deputies to assist this woman who lives in a rural part (in other words, any part) of Josephine County. The reason? Budget cuts to law enforcement meant the sheriff’s office was only staffed on weekdays during regular business hours. The operator, in desperation, transfers the call to the state police dispatcher, hoping she can help.
“Uhh… I don’t have anybody to send out there,” says the state dispatcher to the woman whose ex-boyfriend is still outside trying to break in. “Uhm… you know, obviously if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away, or do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”
She had asked him to go away and explained to the state dispatcher she had no way to escape from her home to get away from him. “Well, the only thing I can do is give you some advice, and call the sheriff’s office tomorrow,” the dispatcher told her. “Obviously, if he comes in and unfortunately has a weapon or is trying to cause you physical harm, that’s a different story. You know, the sheriff’s office doesn’t work up there. I don’t have anybody to send.”
The ex-boyfriend did come inside and didn’t go away until he had raped and choked the woman who called 911 for help.
It’s bad enough that the Josephine County Budget for 2012-2013 shows the county got $176,000 from the feds earmarked to fight the drug war alone (called “Byrne Grants”), money that can’t be used to pay sheriffs to help potential rape victims calling 911 for help. It’s bad enough that the budget for 2008-09 shows $50,000 spent to rip up pot plants in the forest and that twice as many man-hours were dedicated to Narcotics than dedicated to Major Crime.
But now, the Willamette Week reports that the Oregon Sheriff’s Association has made the first and only donation reported by the No on Measure 91 campaign, a whopping $100,000 to oppose marijuana legalization.
So, let me get this straight – the sheriffs have $100,000 to fight marijuana legalization, but no money to send a sheriff to respond to a 911 rape call? Paradoxically, passage of Measure 91 guarantees 35% of marijuana revenue goes to state and local police to help fund their fight against real crime and to ensure legal marijuana is strictly regulated.
But from the sheriffs’ point of view, spending $100,000 to save that Byrne Grant budget line of $170,000 just makes economic sense. Even more so when one realizes there’s another $327,500 on the table from the District Attorney’s and Sheriff’s Asset Forfeiture Fund at stake, money that would be much harder to collect if marijuana were no longer contraband.
Marijuana taxes are unlikely to fill a half-million dollar hole in a rural Oregon county’s budget. Using the state’s projection of up to $40 million in marijuana tax revenue, the 35% that goes to law enforcement totals $14 million. Measure 91 directs 15% directly to state police, so 262 cities and 36 counties are left splitting up $8 million dollars based not only on population, but also the number of licensed growers, processors, and sellers per city or county. Josephine County is the type of conservative county that could ban all marijuana licenses and thereby receive zero marijuana tax dollars.
If only the federal government doled out six-figure grants for local police to fight rapists…
(Hear the actual 911 call in my radio ad for Measure 91 at http://rad-r.us/or911call.)