Ashland considering utility hike for new police

Ashland, Ore., — “If we want to get new police resources deployed quickly, we need to find the most expeditious way to get them on board.”

The Ashland Police Department currently has 28 full time police officers, and it’s been that way for years.

But with the way the city is growing, Police Chief Tighe O’meara says it’s not enough.

“The population is up, the tourism population is up, the student population is up and our staffing has remained the same.”

The chief is going before the city council in hopes of adding five new police officers to the force.

One of the five officers would re-start the school resource officer program, the other four would be added to each patrol.

“Of course more police resources within the department would have an impact on the negative behavior downtown, but they’re not being brought on specifically to address downtown issues.”

Taking the city council route is the quickest way to get new officers on the force, because they won’t have to wait for an election.

“It can take up to, or more than 309 days before I have a fully trained person on the street, operating at a solo patrol capacity.”

But the additions come at a cost of about half a million dollars.

They’re hoping to pay for it with a 4 to 5 dollar increase a month on residents’ water or electric bills.

It’s something some residents in the area are on board with.

“I think that if it were going to drastically improve the safety of the citizens, and it was a true need of the police department, then I’m ok with it.”

“It seems like a sensible place to cover a cost, and I just assume it’s a needed cost. I trust my police department to ask for what they need.”

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