Some rural parts of Oregon have been overrun by drug traffickers. Authorities have identified over a dozen organized crime groups operating in Jackson County. Senate Bill 1507 hopes to allocate over $5 million to fight organized crime. Republican Senator Brian Boquist is one of the leading supporters of the bill, mostly because his district is affected by organized crime.
Unfortunately, this bill will have to fight for budget dollars against a far more urgent issue—prison overcrowding. The Oregon Department of Corrections is seeking nearly $100 million to deal with more incarcerated people than it expected over the next two years.
Boquist maintains a positive outlook regarding the chances of S.B. 1507; he is hopeful that the legislature will find the money to fund both bills. Even though the bulk of the monies go toward waging war on organized crime, some funds will be allocated to poorer counties to pay for extra police and prosecutors. Extra officers will be hired throughout southwest Oregon.
Less than 20 new officers will be added to rural police forces like Josephine, but the population is relatively small in these areas. The recent spike in crime rates is attributed to drug trafficking and other gang activity.
Other senators claim that funding the prison system is the most important issue but 1507 will be given attention if there is money left in the budget. A version of this bill was rejected by state lawmakers in 2013; it emphasized funding for insolvent counties.