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Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner talks community safety

KEZI sat down with Chief Skinner to discuss the strides his department has taken over the last year and what they still need to be able to accomplish their long-term goals.

Posted: Apr 25, 2019 11:30 PM
Updated: Apr 25, 2019 11:36 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner was in the KEZI studio on Thursday talking about the city's Community Safety Initiative and the current needs of the police department.

Chief Skinner said the department has come a long way over the last year, adding 13 new officers to the force.

RELATED: EUGENE POLICE DEPARTMENT UNVEILS STREET CRIMES UNIT

However, he said they're still struggling to meet the needs of the community and community members said they appreciate his honesty.

Skinner said the $8.6 million "bridge funding" from the city has helped the police department become fully staffed.

Though they have some new faces on the force, Skinner said they're still struggling to respond to calls in a timely manner and he understands how frustrating that is to the community.

To be able to patrol the city and not just respond to calls, Chief Skinner said he would need to add another 40 to 50 officers to the 202 they already have.

RELATED: PROPOSED PAYROLL TAX GETS MIXED REVIEWS IN EUGENE

"It's not unusual for officers to show up and have 30 calls holding when they get there and have 30 calls holding when they get off duty for the next shift to come on," Skinner said. "You can't do a lot of community policing activities when you don't have discretionary time to actually go out into the neighborhoods and do those things."

Just a few hours after that interview, Chief Skinner met with members of the Cal Young neighborhood.

He echoed a lot of the same statistics about the department's struggles, but residents like Brett Blundon said they're just glad for his honesty.

"I really appreciate that he acknowledged the capacity problems with the police department and that they do their best to prioritize the calls and respond to people's concerns," Blundon said.

The Eugene City Council is considering several ways to fund the nearly $23 million a year needed to fund their Community Safety Initiative in the long-term, including a possible payroll tax.

RELATED: EUGENE CITY COUNCIL MAY ADD POLICE FUNDING AS PUBLIC SAFETY NEEDS GROW

Their next discussion about that funding will be on May 8 during their public work session at noon.

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