People of Northwest Public Radio
Lane Country, Oregon, DA
Tue April 24, 2012
Budget Cuts Force DA to Close County Coroner's Office
The Lane County District Attorney, in Oregon, will have to close the medical examiner's office and cut back drastically on criminal investigations. The DA faces a 25 percent reduction in its budget for next year.
Lane County DA Alex Gardner says he will have to lay off 19 people.
"We're at the point where we can't deliver minimum service anymore," he says. "That's been true for a while as most folks in the community know our office has been shrinking for a very long time."
Gardner says his office has only 24 DAs in the criminal division and two investigators. He expects to lose eight deputy DA's. This means many cases will go uninvestigated -- and the perpetrators will go free. Gardiner plans to shutter the county medical examiner's office next month.
"So, we've just gotten to the point where the cuts are so severe and so sustained we're just in collapse mode now," he says. "We just can't do it anymore. And the program is going away."
Gardner says he's asked the state for help. Ultimately, he'd like regional medical examiner's offices. Lane County leaders are preparing to ask voters for a public safety funding measure. Similar efforts have failed in the past.
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