NORTH BEND — As citizens braced for no police coverage from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. starting Tuesday night, the City of North Bend announced a continuation of 24-hour police coverage.
In the initial press release sent out that night, no explanation was provided except to say that county law enforcement agencies and the Coquille Indian Tribe were consulted on the issue.
“As a result of those consultations, and a contract for Public Safety services between the city and the Coquille Indian Tribe, the city has determined that it will be able to continue to provide coverage from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on a daily basis to the citizens of North Bend,” the release said.
The release pointed to Ballot Measure 6-177, approved by voters in the May election, which reduced the Public Safety Fee from $30 to $15 and cut the Public Safety budget by $785,000 as why there was going to be significantly less police coverage.
Last month, the council approved the 2020-2021 budget, which, to make up for the shortfall, included cutting five officers and dissolving two officer positions from the NBPD, leaving 12 officers on staff. It was written into the ballot measure and discussed during City Council meetings that the reduction would lead to no police coverage from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. starting June 30.
In a second press release sent out Wednesday, the city pointed to an uncertain financial future as why it planned to reduce police funding.
“It was clear going into the new fiscal year that the current levels of staffing were not sustainable due to the results of ballot measure 6-177,” the Wednesday release said. “It was also clear that there were uncertainties in future funding created by:
• The Coquille Tribe’s desire to renegotiate its contract with the City for the provision of public safety services due to the COVID-19 restrictions causing loss of revenue at the casino.
• A pending lawsuit filed by Douglas and Debra Bankler and Lois McPherson against the City of North Bend challenging the legality of the public safety fee.
• The Expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement with the Police Teamsters Union on June 30, 2020.
• The inability of property taxes to fund public safety.”
The release said the city is trying to resolve the funding issues, but in the meantime has reached into its contingency funds for “round the clock (police) coverage.”
City Manager Terence O’Connor and Police Chief Robert Kappelman have not responded to numerous requests for comment from The World.
This story will be updated.