Josephine County, Oregon’s budget took a hit when the feds decided they weren’t going to pay out timber subsidies to them anymore. Apparently, the feds own about 70% of the land in the county, and those subsidies paid for a number of things including their county police department.
To make up for the $7.5 million shortfall, county officials tried to get a new tax approved by residents. But county residents didn’t want another tax, so the county administration suffered and was forced to make cuts.
The County Sheriff’s Department announced that they would also be making cuts and would only be responding to life-threatening situations. In addition, dozens of prisoners had to be released and the police department’s major crimes division had to be shut down.
As a response to the government cuts, a group of about 100 county residents formed together to deal with crime in their area. They even have an armed and trained, 12-member “response team” to deal with more serious, but non-life-threatening situations. Fox News reported:
Ken Selig — who was the longest-serving law enforcement officer in all three local agencies when he was forced to retire from the department due to cuts — told FoxNews.com he found the sheriff’s declaration unacceptable. And he felt compelled to guard his community’s vulnerable members. “Who else is going to protect you when your government can’t?” Selig said.
Selig and his friend Pete Scaglione formed the North Valley Community Watch, a county-wide organization dedicated to helping citizens in non-life-threatening situations, primarily property crimes. It is one of a handful of community groups that have formed since the cuts. Without a robust Sheriff’s Office, their mission is broader than the typical neighborhood watch group…
Though the “response team” members do carry legal firearms, Selig said the team’s main goal is to provide a deterrent presence, and that none of them have ever fired a shot. He said those involved in his group believe there is no substitute for well-trained law enforcement, but they feel they have no other choice but to protect their community. “We believe responsible citizens doing responsible things make it hard for criminals to do irresponsible things,” he said.
Not surprisingly, liberals hopped on this story and called these people are “taking the law into their own hands,” that they’re an “armed vigilante group” and “George Zimmerman on steroids.” Even the county commissioner expressed concern that situations could “escalate to violence” because of this band of armed civilians.
As if police never escalate situations to violence. This armed group of residents won’t be backed by a union (as many police officers are), and they’re not being trained to “shoot first, cover up later.” As far as I know, they’re not even being paid. They’re volunteers. They have every incentive to offer their fellow residents protection. They truly want to serve and protect.