As with everyone in our community, along with our community partners, the District Attorney’s Office continues to adapt to the changes created by the Governor’s “Stay Home, stay safe” order. While the order is broad in its application, it is up to the counties to make appropriate changes to reflect the new demands. I want to take a moment to address some of the concerns many of you may have. First and foremost, the District Attorney’s Office is still open for business and is keeping law and order and protecting the public. However, we must coordinate our efforts with the State of Oregon court’s, law enforcement and the Lincoln County Jail.
For instance, the Lincoln County Jail, due to COVID-19, is only accepting arrestees for serious crimes, along with individuals who pose an extreme risk to the community. This does not change the way we operate. Like many county organizations and businesses, we are working on reduced staff physically present in the office; however, all the legal assistants and lawyers are expected to maintain their cases from home if they are not in the office. This is working quite well due to modern technology. The office is always staffed with attorneys during business hours and attorneys are still handling in-custody hearings that continue to occur daily.
While Lincoln County’s response to COVID-19 has seen a decrease in social activities due to individuals staying at home, certain types of crime still continue to occur, and in some cases, have increased. Domestic violence cases have seen an increase overall. This increase is seen nationwide. Domestic violence cases under Oregon law result in mandatory arrests and the Lincoln County Jail will accept these individuals arrested for domestic violence offenses. My office has two full-time prosecutors dedicated to handling these types of cases and we will continue to do so.
Specialty courts, such as Drug Court, Hope Court and Health and Wellness Courts are continuing as regularly scheduled with our support. While domestic violence has seen an increase, drunk driving arrests have seen a decrease. This is most likely due to individuals staying at home. These cases still happen, but for the most part, there has been a reduction in arrests. Drug offenses have stayed at about the same level.
So what is happening with all of the other cases and arrests? Individuals who are not in custody, meaning those individuals who are not in the Lincoln County jail, have been given future court dates starting in June of this year. These individuals continue to be monitored by the Pretrial Specialists with the Lincoln County Jail. Many are required to check in each week on a consistent basis while they await trial or their day in court.
Law enforcement and Parole and Probation are continuing to monitor these individuals to make sure they are compliant with the judge’s order regarding their release conditions. I was a Lincoln County Deputy District Attorney during the recession of 2008. Our County weathered the changes then, and it will successfully react to the changes now. Jonathan H. Cable Lincoln County District Attorney