A Changing Community
Josephine County is located in southwestern Oregon and was created by the Territorial Legislature on January 22, 1856, from the western half of Jackson county. It was the nineteenth, and last, county created before statehood.
Josephine county was named for Josephine Rollins, the first white woman to settle in southern Oregon. In 1886, the county seat was relocated to Grants Pass, a new town built along the recently completed railroad which traversed the state. The City of Grants Pass was incorporated in 1887 and, soon after, started individual police and fire agencies.
Historically the city's economy had been based on mining, but moved to timber as the gold began to decline. In recent years, Grants Pass has begun to focus on tourism because of the city's proximity to the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, which is world renowned for white-water, salmon and steelhead fishing, and jet boat recreation. Currently, approximately 35,000 people live within the 12 square miles of the City of Grants Pass.
Downtown Grants Pass has earned the distinction of a National Historic District because of its historic buildings and homes. The Downtown district is now filled with antique and collectible shops, ice cream parlors, and restaurants.
The Grants Pass Police Department and the Grants Pass Fire Department combined their services in 1984 to form the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety. The Grants Pass Department of Public Safety is currently managed by one Director, two Deputy Chiefs (Fire Rescue Operations and Police Operations) and two Lieutenants who oversee police operations and police support services.
The Fire Deputy Chief oversees three Battalion Chiefs, three fire Corporals, 22 firefighter / EMT, nine Student Firefighters , and the Fire Prevention Section, consisting of a Fire Marshal, Fire Prevention Specialist, a Fire Inspector and a Fire Prevention Support Specialist.
The Police Operations Deputy Chief oversees the entire Patrol Division as well as the Police Support Division. Additionally, one Support Specialist handles the department's payroll, invoices, etc.
The Support Lieutenant oversees the Detective Section (1 Detective Sergeant, 6 Detectives (one assigned to the interagency narcotics team - RADE) one full-time and two part-time Property Specialists, and one Investigative Specialist as well as the five Community Service Officers (who handle city ordinance complaints and enforce parking regulations) and 2 traffic / motorcycle officer
The Operations Lieutenant supervises Patrol, School Resource Officer and Crime Prevention Officer. Approximately 20 Auxiliary volunteers work with Police and Fire for special events, clerical assistance, vacation house checks, downtown and park patrols, and handicap parking issues. The Operations Lieutenant also oversees the Reserve Officer Program.
The additional task of managing all of the 911 services for the entire county falls to the Grants Pass dispatch center. All emergent and non-emergent calls for police (including Sheriff's office), fire (including Rural Metro Fire Department, Wolf Creek Fire Department, Illinois Valley Fire Department, Williams Fire Department, and the Oregon Department of Forestry), and medical (including American Medical Response ambulance service) are received by records and dispatch personnel. These personnel also handle most administrative telephone calls as well.
Some of the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety employees function in other roles as well. These employees participate in training functions such as: defensive tactics , Emergency Vehicle Operations, First Aid / CPR, firearms, the department's SWAT team, bicycle team, gang enforcement team, Technical Rescue Team, accountability team, Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (RADE) team and Critical Incident Negotiation Team.
All three divisions work together to deliver an annual Citizen Public Safety Academy and an annual Student Public Safety Academy at the Grants Pass High School.
An Increase in Calls
Over the past several years, the call for Fire / Rescue has increased from approximately 1331 calls in 1994 to approximately 4038 in 2011, a 77% increase. For large fire or significant emergency incidents, the Fire / Rescue Division relies on mutual and automatic aid agreements with Josephine and Jackson county Fire agencies through the Rogue Valley Fire Chiefs Association two-county mutual assistance agreements.
The calls for police services have increased from approximately 23,685 in 1994 to approximately 66,483 in 2014. The officers assigned to patrol work 12-hour shifts in teams of 5-8 officers. The officers are mandated to attend on-going training on an annual basis in order to maintain their certifications, skills, and knowledge.
Fortunately, the city of Grants Pass does not have a high volume of serious person crimes. Typically these cases take multiple detectives, require specialized training and investigative techniques and also generally require many hours to investigate. As an example, an identity theft case may involve many victims, suspects, and require subpoenas for bank records, interviews of victims, seizure of computers and digital evidence - all very time consuming.
Community Service Officers
The Community Service Officers (CSOs) provide invaluable assistance to the agency and the community by handling calls that typically would have been handled by police officers, code enforcement officers, and / or parking enforcement officers. These calls include but are not limited to animal complaints, ordinance violations, parking violations, abandoned vehicles, littering, and graffiti abatement.
Primary Answering Point
The City of Grants Pass is the Primary Answering Point for all 911 calls received in Josephine County. This means that every call for police, fire, and medical emergencies come through the 911 Center operated by the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety dispatchers. The following agencies receive dispatching services through the City of Grants Pass: Grants Pass Police, Grants Pass Fire / Rescue, Rural Metro Fire Department, Wolf Creek Fire, Illinois Valley Fire, Williams Fire, and Oregon Department of Forestry, American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance service.
In 2010 there were 46,902 calls received on the 911 emergency lines; 43,245 internal and administrative calls; 6793 non-emergent calls; and a total of 1172 other types of calls.
The citizens of Grants Pass have historically been supportive of the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety. The last levy that failed completely was in 1983, which was the last time the department had to lay-off personnel. The Grants Pass Department of Public Safety placed a bond measure on the ballot in November 2006 for funding to build two new fire / police substations. That measure passed and, in addition to funding the stations, the bond funded the purchase of three fire trucks and a new training tower. These facilities and this equipment are now serving the citizens and visitors of Grants Pass.
Fire / Rescue personnel are currently dispatched from 1 of three 3 stations in the city of Grants Pass. One station is located in the northwest portion of the city, while the other two are located south of the river. Police personnel are dispatched from the Justice Building near the center of town and from the Parkway Public Safety Center located south of the river. Records and Dispatch personnel work from our location at the Justice Building as well.