Overview of Oregon’s Public Safety Strategies

Portland Police

In 2011, the state of Oregon designed a 10 Year Public Safety Policy plan to combat present and future safety issues. This project promotes a vision where “Oregonians are safe and secure wherever they work, live, or play”. The objective is to create a safer community with maximum cost efficiency.

While lower crime rates are certainly positive, emergency and public services need improvement, rehabilitation programs are scarce, and the number of inmates in prisons have spiked. In response to these challenges, public safety leaders and policy makers in Oregon created a safety plan to address and focus on ways to maximize security for residents.

Oregon’s 10 Year Public Safety Policy Vision outlines three safety strategies that will increase protection for Oregonians statewide. The plan is constructed to spend the allocated funds effectively and refocus spending over a 10 year time span. Instead of creating more prison beds, the state of Oregon is focused on using resources on proven strategies that prevent crime. When these preventative strategies are combined with community services, like drug treatment and early childhood education and care, funds can be stretched across more programs while at the same time achieving positive outcomes.

To quote the project itself, “Going forward, Oregon has reached a critical point where we must redefine how policy and funding choices can best protect and reduce risk to all citizens.” The three main strategies outlined in this safety plan focus on improving the public safety and identifying ways to improve outcomes for the future.

Strategy 1: Invest in Youth and Families

Public safety can be aided through family stability and prosperity. It is a preventative strategy achieved through the state and community working in tandem to modify the existing systems over time. The thought behind addressing youth and families directly is that by starting at the core of the community, positive changes will begin in adolescence and at home, which will then reflect upon the community as a whole. Access to increased educational and economic opportunities will also open more doors for increased safety in Oregon.

The improvements to these systems include rebuilding child welfare and foster care, as well as strengthening the coordination of social services. The justice system will also be afforded better tools and information to advance correctional processes for juveniles. Initiatives also include increasing educational and employment opportunities for juveniles in the foster care system to ensure a smoother transition from childhood into adulthood.

Strategy 2: Prioritize Proven Prevention Programs

When comparing the costs of rehabilitation and treatment programs to the cost of incarceration, data show that the cost of rehabilitation services for non-violent offenders is much lower than the cost of incarcerating them. The implementation of rehabilitation programs over incarceration is a more proactive strategy that focuses on reducing recidivism. Through prioritization of preventative programs, crime can be reduced.

The strategy involves supporting the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, an effort focused on new strategies and tools to improve supervision of felony offenders not in prison. Sentencing reform and supervision is encouraged among criminal justice officials to help increase compliance. Court facilities will also be fitted with modern communication technology to maximize efficiency, as well as an overall increase in Oregon state police visibility.

Strategy 3: Improve Coordination with Local Communities and Citizens

Partnerships between federal, state, and local agencies are critical to enhancing public safety. Communication can be a powerful tool to combat crime and promote efficiency and effectiveness.
Improving coordination includes upgrading modern communications infrastructure and technology to allow for real-time sharing at every government level. Improvements in technology include adopting innovative and proven analysis techniques such as DNA testing to speed up investigative processes.

Another update requires modernization of communication within communities. Open and rapid communication can improve access to consumer protections and increase the protection of civil rights, regardless of gender, race or disability.

10-Year Objectives

The state of Oregon is looking to achieve and exceed public safety goals over a ten year period. Goals such as maintaining historically low crime rates and possible further reduction, as well as shifting funding from corrections to refocused prevention programs within communities will continue to be the focus of this plan.

All in all, the state hopes to see an increase in public safety by supporting prevention programs to hinder crime growth instead of spending more on correctional facilities and sentencing.

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Sources:

[1] http://216.243.141.9/images/resources_docs/weeklymailout/2012/may/week4/e%2010-YearPlanForOregonSinglePage.pdf

[2] https://www.oregon.gov/cjc/grants/Documents/2016%20Oregon%20JAG%20Strategic%20Plan.pdf

[3] http://library.state.or.us/repository/2015/201501121435081/safety.pdf

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