A rural Oregon town of fewer than 2,000 residents is about to hand nighttime policing over to security cameras monitored by volunteers, Jefferson Public Radio first reported.
Josephine County's understaffed sherrif's office doesn't have the resources to efficiently patrol the town of Cave Junction—located about 50 miles southwest of Medford—during the night. JPR reports response times of at least 45 minutes to calls to 911 in the middle of the night.
The city's response? To install security cameras on publicly owned streets in downtown Cave Junction and deputize a group of volunteers called the CJ Patrol to stand watch.
CJ Patrol volunteers do not receive background checks or formal training, JPR reports. On its website, the group calls itself "a private citizen volunteer organization dedicated to effectively addressing heretofore-unchecked property crime in our city and neighborhoods." Volunteers do not make arrests, but they do report crimes to law enforcement. The group did not immediately respond to WW's request for comment.
Cave Junction city recorder Rebecca Patton told JPR that CJ Patrol volunteers can detect "hardcore criminals" by look.
"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 added that the security camera solution is a response to Josephine County voters turning down ballot measures to increase taxes for sheriff's deputies and firefighters. Funding for the cameras comes in part from the$105,000 Cave Junction received after the sale of a county building in 2017.
And crime did spike in the county and surrounding areas after the budget cuts.
Patton did not respond to WW's request for comment.