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Public Safety Levy Boosts Jail And Youth Services

The public safety levy passed by Lane County voters last may has allowed the jail and youth services programs to expand. Yet the numbers are not back to pre-recession levels.

The Lane County Sheriff's office will soon hire its second wave of about 20 deputies. Additional jail beds will be opened accordingly. Sheriff Tom Turner says the prospect of hiring that many new positions is challenging, but the jobs are attractive:

Turner: "We're in the same position as many other businesses. It's hard to get people. It's hard to get 'em quick. And the cool thing that we've never been able to offer before, though, is we have about a five-year stability piece here. So that's a huge piece, and a huge incentive for people to come work for us."

The measure also provides funds for detention services and treatment for youth offenders. Al Levine is with Lane County Youth Services. He says they were able to add office staff and expand their intake program to be open 24/7. Still, Levine says they could use even more funding:

Levine: "Our residential treatment is up to 16 beds but we have in the past had as many as 32 beds of treatment. So we're not up to where we've been, but it's way better than the low point."

Levine says ideally, the department would like to add a 30-day shelter and assessment center, something it used to have.

Anyone interested in a career in law enforcement is invited to an open house at the Lane County Public Safety Building on Thursday at 5:30. Applications for open positions will be accepted starting January 12th.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.