The saying goes, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”
If you live in Josephine County, Oregon, apparently they’re only minutes away on weekdays. Budget cuts have reduced department coverage to only 5 days per week.
An unidentified woman was physically and sexually assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, Michael Bellah, after calling 911, only to be told that it was “unfortunate” that there were no officers to help her that day.
“Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there,” the 911 dispatcher told the woman. “You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”
The woman told the dispatcher that Bellah previously attacked her and left her hospitalized a few weeks prior to the latest incident. The dispatcher stayed on the phone with the woman for more than 10 minutes before the sexual assault took place.
The woman responded: “Yeah, it doesn’t matter, if he gets in the house I’m done.” (source)
According to reports, when Bellah got into the house he choked and sexually assaulted the woman. Although it did little good to the victim, he was later arrested.
Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilberson was relatively unsympathetic. “There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t have another victim. If you don’t pay the bill, you don’t get the service.”
It appears that a call to 911 is more likely to get someone there after the crime than to prevent the crime before it happens. Clearly, a 911 call to stop the criminal is an exercise in futility, and prevention is now largely up to the individual. It’s interesting to note that counties across the country are cutting back on police officers, but these budget cuts don’t seem to have slowed down the purchases of ammo by the federal government.