Our senses have been numbed to violent crime with the advent of television because our lives are saturated with it. Our movies, television dramas and news are filled with it. For those of us in rural parts of the state, thankfully, it rarely confronts us on a personal level. This year it has, however, and I, for one, don't like it.
This week we had a service station owner shot while struggling with two masked bandits. We also had a report of a home invasion by someone with a weapon. Earlier this year we had a family of four murdered when their mobile home was set afire. And these are only the ones in Pendleton. Hermiston, Milton-Freewater, Irrigon and Boardman all have had several reports of violence over the last year or so.
A person doesn't have to know the victims personally to feel sickened by this. Just knowing they are our neighbors is enough for us to feel outrage against the people who carry out violence. When such things happen we all feel a little violated.
I don't know if these horrible crimes are just a fluke. Sometimes such things happen and then the crime rate drops again. While we all hope that's the case, we can't be sure. The way it's looking, it could get worse.
Now we hear that the Oregon State Police likely will face even deeper cuts than originally expected. In fact, half the number of OSP officers would be cut right here in Umatilla County. That would leave Morrow County and Milton-Freewater with no OSP presence. Only two fish and wildlife officers would remain and they would be based out of Pendleton. Across the state, 136 officers would be laid off.
Like most Oregonians, my head is swimming by all the potential cuts. Schools, human services, prisons, hospitals, law enforcement, extension services, etc., all are on the block. No one knows for sure how the cuts would come down. If the January ballot measure is not approved, cuts can be made in a number of ways. All we know for sure is that no matter how they are meted out, we all are going to feel them in a big way. This isn't a ruse by the state government or anyone else to get people to vote for this ballot measure. It will happen in some form or another and the thought that nameless, faceless bureaucrats in another part of the state will be the big losers is wrong.
To most of us, the three areas that are most important to all Oregonians are education, health care and law enforcement. This includes K-12 and higher education, keeping our local hospitals operational as well as the ability of our cops, courts and prisons to maintain public safety. These are basic needs that must not be compromised.
The thought of losing half our local OSP force, along with our crime lab, makes no sense to thinking people. We need them now more than ever. Our state police is vital to law enforcement in rural Oregon. That's not always the case in some states, but in Oregon the OSP and everything it provides is invaluable.
So while we consider violent crime becoming a more frequent occurrence, imagine what it will be like with even less resources to fight it. It's enough to make law abiding, peace-loving people shudder.