NORTH BEND — In a last-minute decision, the City of North Bend announced that citizens will continue to have 24-hour police coverage.
In a press release sent out Tuesday evening, the city explained that county law enforcement agencies and the Coquille Indian Tribe were consulted on how to provide police coverage from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“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 did not say how that coverage will be paid for or provided.
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 was expected to cut five officers and dissolve 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.
“The ballot measure combined with a currently pending lawsuit against the City of North Bend over the Public Safety Fee resulted in the city considering a limitation of police services at the beginning of the new fiscal year …,” the release said.
In a letter from City Manager Terence O’Connor last week to Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni, he stated that “regrettably” the city was writing to inform the Sheriff’s Office that “effective 11 p.m. on June 30, 2020, there will be no law enforcement available in the City of North Bend between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and that any 911 calls for police service will place the burden of response on the CCSO as the underlining law enforcement jurisdiction in the county.
“… As in the early days of the west, you and your deputies are once again the only line of defense between the community and lawlessness.”
O’Connor and Police Chief Robert Kappelman have not returned repeated attempts from The World for comment regarding the ongoing issue.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, in an email from the City of Coos Bay, City Manager Rodger Craddock informed the mayor and councilors that law enforcement administrators from Coos Bay, Oregon State Police, the Coos County Sheriff’s Office and the Coquille Tribal Police met with “North Bend’s police management team.”
“At the meeting we were advised that the city of North Bend has decided to retain at least three of their officers who were going to be laid off so that will be able to provide their citizens 24-7 service, at least temporarily,” Craddock wrote.
North Bend Councilman Timm Slater told The World that the agreement reached with the Coquille Indian Tribe would be to “cover the officers that will do the night shift so the Tribal areas and citizens of North Bend will be taken care of.”
“I know (the Tribe) is involved in the financing of that,” he said. “…There’s no deviation of change from what (the city) has been used to. I think that’s something important for us to do — we owe our citizens much more than we’ve seen recently and it’s an important time for leadership in North Bend to step up to not only take care of what’s here but what it is we are to become ….”
Sheriff Zanni confirmed that there was a morning meeting Tuesday with local law enforcement where they were advised that the issue of police coverage in North Bend was resolved and they are “not requiring us to cover their city from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.”
“I’m glad we have something resolved and I hope it turns into something permanent,” Zanni said. “Not sure if it is or not. That information wasn’t available to us.”
Jim Rose with North Bend Citizens for Good Faith Government, which placed Measure 6-177 on the May ballot, said the organization is taking the next step to replace members on the City Council in the upcoming November election.
“… We have a slate of four people (to run for office) but don’t have 100% commitment yet,” he said. “We’re looking to have a platform of principals … The number one objective is to restore faith in elected leadership and ensure the public safety spending is priority above all else. I think all seven city councilors have turned their backs on the city ….”