Ashland police hoping to hire

Ashland, Ore. — Five new officers could be coming to the Ashland Police Department. The officers would be a welcome addition to a department that hasn’t grown in 20 years.

“The one thing that’s remained stagnant is the number of police officers that we have hovering right at about 28,” explained Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara

The small staff is often spread thin. One incident on Van Ness avenue had outside agencies managing the scene 40 minutes until Ashland police were available to respond. Often, only one officer is left to respond to calls while others are busy.

“You either have an Ashland police officer who needs to respond to a situation alone, or we have to delay response long enough to get a police officer from a neighboring jurisdiction over here to back up the Ashland person.”

While the ties with other agencies are strong, the city can’t continually count on them for help.

“We also want our city to be responsible for itself, and we can’t count on Talent, Phoenix, Jackson County Sheriff, OSP to have somebody available.”

If approved, the city would fill five positions, including a school resource officer.

“This allows us to handle two contentious incidents simultaneously in the city without having to rely on outside resources.”

Something that bookstore owner Roy Laird would love to see.

“More people makes it safer for all people. It makes it safer for the police, it makes it safer for the people they’re talking to,” expressed Book Exchange co-owner Roy Laird.

The five additional officers would cost the city just over a half a million dollars. City councilors will address the staffing increase on March 18th.

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