Polk logs 800 calls during no-service hours
"In a few cases, we have called a supervisor out of bed, because the dispatcher told them medics were also responding to the call due to reported injuries generally involving a domestic disturbance," Wolfe said.
Most of the calls either went without a response or had to be passed on to other agencies, he said.
The sheriff's office previously handled all of its own calls, 24-7, in addition to backing up other agencies. Then crippling budget cuts struck, and so far, voters have been unwilling to pass a local levy to take up some of the slack and restore some of the services.
Now fire agencies are handling motor vehicle crashes. And they are relying on tow truck crews to clean up the scene.
"This potentially affects insurance companies, which no longer have the crash investigation done by a deputy at the scene," the sheriff said.
Wolfe said he is concerned about the ramifications the cuts are having on the remaining staff.
"It is extremely challenging to respond to high priority calls, knowing that your backup is coming from across the county," he said. "In some cases, we call upon a local municipal agency to leave the city to assist us, but then this leaves the city without its officer, because he is helping cover the county."
Local fire agencies have expressed concern and frustration when an ambulance has to wait for an officer to arrive to secure the scene, Wolfe said.
"Delays, at times lengthy, would have a significant impact on a victim," he said.
If an emergency call is received at 2 a.m., for instance, the dispatcher must contact the on-call supervisor, brief that individual on the nature of the call and get a determination on a possible response.
"If another deputy is called out, there's an additional response delay," Wolfe said.
"The on-call supervisor and deputy must both drive to the location of the call, and this could add as much as 30 minutes to the response time, according to Wolfe.
"I am very concerned about the impacts these delays have on the employees at the Willamette Valley Communication Center, who are having people ask for help, the medics who are not able to enter a residence due to potential risk to their safety, and my deputies who now must make important decisions after being woken up by phone."
Another impact beginning to show up is the decline in the number of arrests made because deputies only patrol 10 hours daily.
"Between March 29 and Aug. 1, there was a 45 percent decrease in arrests made by my deputies," Wolfe said.