A small Southern Oregon town plans to beef up its diminished police presence by installing a number of security cameras that a group of vigilant volunteers will monitor.
Cave Junction’s mayor and city council recently approved the public safety proposal and are now awaiting final authorization from Josephine County, which would provide the bulk of the project’s funding, City Recorder Rebecca Patton told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Monday.
Declining timber revenues in the county and other swaths of rural Oregon have triggered dramatic budget cuts in recent years, including sweeping reductions to local law enforcement agencies. Voters, meanwhile, have repeatedly rejected ballot measures that would increase taxes to fund police.
Sheriff’s deputies currently patrol Cave Junction, a town of 2,000 about 30 miles southwest of Grants Pass, only during the day Monday through Friday. For several years the town has relied on a volunteer watch group, CJ Patrol, to help thwart crime at night.
Under its public safety plan, Cave Junction would install eight security cameras on city-owned streetlights throughout its commercial corridor along U.S. 199. Members of CJ Patrol would access and monitor them while working the beat, Patton said.
In an interview last month with Jefferson Public Radio, Patton said members of the patrol group do not undergo any type of background check and are able to classify “hardcore criminals” simply by their looks.
“They can identify them by the way that they dress, because they have a certain apparel that they wear all the time, or the way they walk,” Patton said. “Sometimes they carry things all the time, it could be something as simple as a skateboard. They have learned how to identify these people very, very quickly, then they know how to respond.”
Patton told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the town would likely require background checks for any citizen patrol volunteer who monitors the surveillance cameras.