CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. — The start of the new year brought additional patrols to Josephine County including night patrols.
In 2018, Cave Junction resident Belinda Wright’s store “Wright’s World Emporium” was broken into twice in one week.
“It was like the wild west,” said Wright. “Stealing from each other, stealing from everyone else. It was just crazy.”
Flash forward, Wright says much is changing.
“I don’t feel like I have to be on guard all the time at night,” she said. “Waiting for my phone to ring to see if I need to run down here to see who busted a window, who broken in.”
Wright believes safety is improving all due to an increased police presence in town.
As of January 1st, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office nearly doubled their patrol hours from 12 to 20.
“It was easy for criminals when they knew there was no law enforcement for a certain time in Josephine County,” said Undersheriff Travis Snyder, Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office.
Undersheriff Snyder says the agency has gone without night patrols since 2012. He says for a long time they were severely understaffed.
“I mean we would have 30, 40 waiting calls every day and that was just when your day started,” he said. “You never caught up and there was not any light at the end of the tunnel.”
But within 10 days and more deputies out in the field, Undersheriff Snyder says the additional patrols are leading to numerous arrests.
“Quite a few number of even criminals have made the comment of ‘I didn’t realize you guys were out here at night,” he said. “And those are the things we take pride in.”
What he says the agency’s really striving for is to make the community feel safe.
“If you’re not handling calls… show a presence, let the community know we’re out there,” he said.
That’s especially important to store owners in smaller cities like Cave Junction.
“It’s just, it’s getting a lot better. It’s getting a lot better,” said Wright.
Electronic store owner, Monique Allen, says she’s been advocating for the county to ramp up security downtown for the past six years.
Her wish finally came true in 2018, after Josephine County Commissioners voted to allocate a little over $100,000 dollars to install additional lights and security cameras.
And now with the added police presence, Allen says real change is afoot.
“We’re so not used to them being here that it’s still kind of a shock and we’re wondering if there’s a major crime going on that they’re here,” she said. “So I think it’s going to take a little bit of getting used to and recognizing no, they’re actually trying to establish patrolling and being here on a regular basis.”
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia. She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.