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Editorial: Voters should fund enhanced sheriff's patrols

Approximately 200,000 people in Washington County are in need of a big-city police department, but don’t happen to reside within a city boundary.

For these residents of urbanized — but still unincorporated — portions of Washington County, the answer to their policing problem has come in the form of enhanced patrols from the sheriff’s office. In the November election, voters will be asked to renew a five-year levy to support expanded patrols that have been in place since 1987.

For the sake of public safety, they should say “yes” to this request.

The special sheriff’s districts primarily affect people within defined unincorporated areas, including Bull Mountain, Metzger, Aloha, Bethany, Cooper Mountain, Cedar Mill, Rock Creek, Cedar Hills, Garden Home and Raleigh Hills. But the districts also include numerous smaller neighborhoods and individual “island parcels” scattered inside city limits throughout the county. These areas are within the region’s urban growth boundary, but haven’t been annexed to a city. Instead, they receive their urban services through the county or through a hodgepodge of special service districts.

A blend of service territories isn’t necessarily the most elegant or efficient way for local governments to provide urban and suburban residents with water and sewer systems, fire protection, recreational services and police patrols. But in Washington County, this is the system that’s evolved for delivery of urban amenities outside of cities. And in some places — such as Bull Mountain, Aloha, Bethany and Cedar Mill, it makes a lot of sense.

That’s why until these urban areas are annexed by a city, residents of the Enhanced Sheriff’s Patrol Districts should be eager to support Measure 34-198. This proposal continues a levy that’s been in existence for 25 years. It will protect the jobs of about 60 deputies who focus their patrols within the enhanced districts.

These deputies deal with the same types and levels of crime their counterparts in Tigard, Beaverton and Hillsboro also encounter just on the other side of the city limits. The deputies’ presence isn’t a luxury, but an outright necessity for the public’s safety.

The cost of this levy is increasing slightly from the previous five-year levy. Property owners within the enhanced districts would pay 68 cents per $1,000 of assessed value vs. 63 cents with the previous levy. The additional 5 cents per $1,000 would cost the typical homeowner about $12 more per year than he or she is paying now, bringing the bill to $156 for a home assessed at $230,000.

That’s a chunk of change, but the reduction in public safety and quality of life would come at a much higher cost.

Because they understand the need, voters in the Enhanced Sheriff’s Patrol Districts have approved funding for the extra patrols five times before. They should do so again in the Nov. 6 election and thereby continue the same level of law enforcement protection they’ve enjoyed for the past two and a half decades.

We encourage voters to say “yes” to Measure 34-198.



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