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Declares emergency due to potential reduction of law enforcement personnel, particularly at the jail

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - County declares emergency due to potential reduction of law enforcement personnel, particularly at the jail.The Crook County Court signed a declaration of emergency to the State of Oregon government Wednesday, seeking changes to a recent COVID vaccination mandate.

The emergency is being declared "in response to the foreseeable lack of adequate resources to respond to the basic needs for public health and safety services." The county resolution and order points out that the Oregon Health Authority, according to its own literature, intentionally made the definition of healthcare worker very broad, and noted that while the mandate did not apply to state-owned department of corrections facilities, city and county jails are not exempt from the rule.

The county goes on to state that it has been told that as many as 17 Crook County Sheriff's Office personnel will consider voluntarily terminating their service with the county instead of submitting to the vaccination mandate.

Should this come to fruition, the county anticipates having to impose "daily gaps in the availability of law enforcement patrol coverage, perhaps totaling 28 hours per week or more," and having to limit the local jail population to "the most severe circumstances, such as felony arrests and mandatory housing only."

Making public safety staffing whole would require training deputies -- whether corrections, patrol or civil -- to a level of competence necessary to serve the local community, which the county said would cost many thousands of dollars.

County leaders went on to point out that since the pandemic first began, sheriff's office staff has undertaken several significant steps to reduce the possibility of a COVID outbreak. So far, those efforts have worked as no outbreaks have occurred at the jail.

"The county finds that the administrative rules promulgated by the Oregon Health Authority could be modified so as to reduce or eliminate these harms," the county states. "The administrative rules could be modified to recognize that those facilities, which have successfully preserved the health of the general public and the individuals housed within would not need to be held to the same standards as those facilities with more unfortunate histories."

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