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Mohawk Valley residents split on dedicated sheriff's deputy

The average Mohawk Valley homeowner would have to pay an additional $121.42 per year, or about $10.12 per month.

Posted: Apr 30, 2021 6:05 PM
Updated: May 18, 2021 3:02 PM

MOHAWK VALLEY, Ore. -- Mohawk Valley residents are divided about a measure set to appear on the May 18 special election ballot that would create a Mohawk Valley Law Enforcement District if passed. 

That means the area along Marcola Road would be assigned a full-time sheriff's deputy who would be responsible for covering the same area as the Mohawk Valley Rural Fire District currently serves.

The average Mohawk Valley homeowner would have to pay an additional $121.42 per year, or about $10.12 per month, according to Lane County's website. That's "based on the median assessed home value of $252,949."

But not all residents are willing to pay that cost.

"To only get one officer that's only going to work one shift, so two thirds of the day we're still not going to have any protection. I don't know what kind of hours they're going to spend out here, what their focus is going to be, so it's kind of difficult for me to throw that much money at him."

As of now, there are currently 25 deputies that serve all of unincorporated Lane County. During most shifts, three deputies are tasked with covering the roughly 4,600 square miles of unincorporated Lane County, according to Lane County Sheriff Cliff Harrold.

"The response times can be pretty slow at times if we do need a deputy out here," said Terry Alberts, who owns the Mohawk General Store alongside his wife. "If we have a problem here at the store and need to call someone, it'd be nice to know that there's somebody that's on duty out in this area."

Harrold said having a deputy in the community will help provide more efficient service.

"A deputy who's tied into the community gets more of the puzzle pieces, so they're actually able to solve issues because the community is involved with them and that really only comes with relationship building," Harrold said.

When Harrold first became involved with the sheriff's office about 30 years ago, there was a resident deputy program involving ten deputies that were assigned to specific communities around Lane County, including one assigned to the Mohawk Valley, the sheriff said.

"In 2019, there was a group of folks in the McKenzie and a group of folks in the Mohawk Valley that reached out to me to say, 'Sheriff, what do we have to do to get our deputy back,'" Harrold said.

Anyone who lives in Mohawk Valley and has questions about the ballot measure is encouraged to call Harrold at 541-682-6790.

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