A small town in Oregon plans to have a volunteer watch group monitor security cameras for criminals since residents refuse to raise taxes to fund a police force. Sheriff's deputies patrol Cave Junction, a town of 2,000 along US 199, during regular work hours Monday to Friday. At other times, members of the watch group CJ Patrol will monitor eight cameras to be installed on streetlights in the downtown area under a public safety proposal approved by the City Council and the mayor, per the Oregonian. These citizens, who don't currently undergo background checks, "can identify [criminals] by the way that they dress, because they have a certain apparel that they wear all the time, or the way they walk," City Recorder Rebecca Patton tells Jefferson Public Radio. "Sometimes they carry things all the time, it could be something as simple as a skateboard."
The plan needs final approval from Josephine County, which is to supply most of the funding from the sale of a county building, per KOBI. Patton tells the Oregonian that citizen volunteers would likely need to pass background checks before accessing the cameras. Other members without formal training "could spend more time in the residential areas patrolling and making sure no one's walking around and breaking into windows," she tells JPR. The outlet notes voters in the county, suffering from declining timber revenues, have repeatedly rejected ballot measures "that would have raised taxes for public agencies like firefighters and sheriff's deputies"; anyone calling 911 in the middle of the night can expect to wait at least 45 minutes for a state trooper to respond. As Patton puts it to JPR, "Until we start paying a little bit more for our services, we're going to get what we pay for." (Read more Oregon stories.)