Written by Kassi Nelson, Posted: Mon, April 28 2014 at 6:01 PM, Updated: Mon, April 28 2014 at 8:56 PM
Josephine County, Ore. -- A massive reduction in government provided timber funds has created a dire situation for law enforcement in Josephine County. Sheriff Gil Gilbertson said crime is running rampant as the number of full time deputies dwindled from 27 to two.
And with the county that's bigger than the state of Rhode Island, Deputy Travis Snyder said it's a daunting task keeping up with criminals.
Deputy Snyder has been with the Sheriff's Office for 15 years. He recently moved from working in the jail back to working patrol. That makes him one of just two patrol deputies for the 1,600 square mile county.
"It's never a shock to see 10 to 20 waiting calls when you start the day," Snyder said.
With a workload that heavy, he said keeping up is an impossible task.
"The reality is is that we're doing our very best and it simply isn't enough," he said
When Snyder joined the Sheriff's Department he said five or six deputies patrolled the county 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But those days are gone. Now, Snyder and one other deputy patrol from 8-4 Monday through Friday.
"It's frustrating to see what's happening to the community," Snyder said.
And Snyder said, the community is changing. He said burglaries and thefts seem to be on the rise. Something he attributes to criminals being more bold because of the lack of law enforcement.
"They know when we're working and when we're not," he said.
And with the overwhelming volume of calls, prioritizing is key.
"Our number one priority is to protect human life. If a call is threatening that becomes our first priority," he said.
NBC5 News reporter Kassi Nelson was born and raised in Nebraska. She graduated from the journalism school at University of Nebraska Lincoln where she studied broadcasting.
She also studied philosophy in the Czech Republic. Kassi has visited nine other countries including Sochi, Russia, where she reported on the preparations for the 2014 Olympic Games.
She loves skiing and live concerts!