Without levy, Linn Co. Sheriff's Office would see cuts

ALBANY, Ore. - More than half the Linn County Sheriff's Office budget is in the voters hands.

"Without that funding, law enforcement in Linn County will look a whole lot different," said Sheriff Bruce Riley.

He's referring to the June 2015 law enforcement levy that will be on the ballot in May. Riley says each division - from patrol and corrections to civil and support services - could see cuts if it's not passed.

"If we were to lose over half of the funding of our office, and lose 80-some positions, then it's a big impact on the rural community."

Linn County Sheriffs patrol more than 2,000 miles in the county, responding to a variety of calls.

Riley says Linn County residents are in their third year of the current levy. It's set to expire in June, 2015.

The new levy will be a slight increase in property taxes, to 25-cents per $1,000 assesed home value. The main reason for the increase is the re-opening of the L-block in the Linn County Jail - previously closed due to budget cuts.

The L-block will add 48 more beds, increasing it's capacity to 230 total beds.

"When word gets out to the groups of folks that commit crime, that the sheriffs don't have enough jail beds, that they can commit property crimes and not worry about going to jail, that's a problem."

Riley says this will keep repeat offenders, petty theft criminals and drug-users off the streets.

"My job as sheriff, and I'm elected to do so, is to provide and keep the peace," Riley says. "I can't do that with beds that are vacant."

Riley says just about every time a levy goes on the ballot, residents support the Sheriff's Office.

"For the general citizen out there just working hard and wanting to provide for his family, and wants to see that patrol car drive by once in a while, or wants to know that protection is there from the Sheriff's Office, I think they are very happy with our service."

Bottom line, Riley says he wants his deputies to be able to continue patrols and keep criminals in jail.

"One of the basic things people need is the feeling of safety and security."

If not approved in May, Linn County Sheriff's Office will have next year to try again. Riley says if it fails a second time, there may be some cuts.