Bend Police Chief Jeff Sale presented the department's budget to city councilors Wednesday night. On Thursday, he talked about why they will need to make some major changes to keep up with the growing population in Bend.
Police calls are up between seven and nine percent, but there is no money to hire more officers. Now, police will have to prioritize their calls and focus on the most serious, violent crimes, and only follow up on the high cost issues.
"Thefts, really with a value of under $100,000 are not going to get worked (by detectives), unless they have time," Sale said. "So, if there's higher priority cases, those thefts are just going to sit there until when, and if, they ever get time to work them."
Councilors have not approved anything yet, but some said they knew major changes would have to come to save dollars.
"It's something that we're looking at," councilor Tom Greene said. "It's not a surprise, but some of the cut areas are quite literally scary."
Sale said he wants his team to focus on the violent crimes, which will take top priority.
"We're going to prioritize what services we're going to provide, and if the community wants more services or wants us to do more, then there's a cost that comes with that," said Sale.
Sale said the department would support any type of bond measure to get them more funds. But that decision falls into the hands of city councilors. Greene said he believes it's not a permanent solution.
"What we don't want to do is pass a bond to hire 10 policemen, and then five years from now, that funding source is gone," Green said. "Then you have to say, 'Geeze, the 10 of you we just hired, we have to let you go because the bond's run out.'"
But some people who live in Bend said they would be willing to pay more taxes to feel safer.
"I would definitely vote yes," said one Bend resident. "Yes, because they are a valuable service to the community."
"You know, I would," said another person in Bend. "If it would help my community. I love this city."
Sale said the public can help save officers time by taking advantage of the department's online reporting system.
"It takes away that face-to-face, one-to-one contact with the police department, and we have concerns with that," said Sale. "We do not want to become a police department where the one time you see us, is on the most violent, worst day of your life."
Sale said layoffs are possible in the future, but there are no immediate plans to do that. He wants people to understand these are projections, and the budget, depends on the day-to-day economy.