Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Wild West... Again?

Imagine being the 911 dispatcher who receives a call that an ex con who is wanted by the state police for parole violations is trying to beat down the door to attack his former girlfriend. It's not the first time; just 2 weeks ago she was hospitalized because of him. She's scared and calls 911 for help…. and is told,
I don't have anybody to send out there.” 

 A few minutes  later as he’s breaking down the door before beating and raping her, 
“Once again, it's unfortunate you guys don't have any law enforcement up there.” 

That’s what happened in Josephine County, Oregon. State budget cuts to public safety have left some Jefferson County citizens without adequate police protection. Things are bad when the Sheriff advises domestic violence victims to consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services and says
“There isn't a day goes by that we don't have another victim… There are absolutely no consequences to committing a crime today given the fact that law enforcement is as weak as it is.”
You can hear the recording of the 911 call on NPR’s All Things Considered; when I hear it I think about two things:
1)      How difficult it must have been for that dispatcher to sit there listening helplessly as a brutal crime is being committed…and not be able to dispatch police to assist, and
2)      That a tragedy needs to happen to bring to light how budget cuts have devastated the most basic public safety responses. Clearly from the sheriff's comments, this is not the first time the Oregon criminal justice system victim has abandoned crime victims.
I'd believe a situation like this might happen back in the days of the wild west... but today? 

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