- 12-strong ‘response team’ armed with guns will operate around the clock
- Follows government cuts, and residents refusing tax hike, forcing state-funded departments to scale back operations
- Josephine County police dept has had to release prisoners and cut hours
By Mia De Graaf
PUBLISHED: 07:22 EST, 27 December 2013 | UPDATED: 07:41 EST, 27 December 2013
Action: The neighbourhood watch group in Josephine County, Oregon, patrol with guns and respond to calls around the clock
Outraged residents in rural Oregon have formed amateur armed patrol groups to replace the budget-stricken police department.
The unusual move comes after Josephine County sheriff announced officials will now only respond to life-threatening situations after losing necessary government grants.
But county governors, fearful of anarchy, have condemned the organisation, urging citizens to hike their taxes instead.
The conflict arose after the national government stopped paying the county’s federal timber subsidies – reimbursment for working on the forest – and proposed a tax hike instead.
However, when residents opposed the bill the state-funded departments were forced to make radical changes.
With 70 per cent of the town made up of woodland, the grant was essential.
Prisoners being released from jail and crimes operations were limited to weekdays, 9am-3.30pm.
Finally, the Sheriff’s Office released a statement urging residents to move if they didn’t feel safe as a new policy to only respond to the most serious incidents was unveiled.
The statement read: ‘The Sheriff’s Office regretfully advises that if you know you are in a potentially volatile situation (for example, you are a protected person in a restraining order that you believe the respondent may violate), you may want to consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services.’
Defiant, retired law enforcement officer Ken Selig united with the neighbourhood watch group to make up for the shortfall.
Armed with guns, the 12-strong response team have vowed to respond to any situation, even non-life-threatening, around the clock.
The Sheriff urged people who do not feel safe to move to somewhere with a fully-functioned crime department
They are part of a 100-strong community group which meets once a month to discuss crime in the area and debate how to tackle it.
Mr Selig has blasted suggestions that the group should concede to raised taxes in a country still coming to terms with the George Zimmerman trial.
He also insists the firearms are merely a deterrent to criminals, not meant for practical use.
He told Fox News: ‘We believe responsible citizens doing responsible things make it hard for criminals to do irresponsible things,’ he said.
‘The county coffers are at the bottom of the barrel.’
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