By Curt Chancler
& Jeanne Wollman
JACKSON CO., OR
- Bad law enforcement by nature is a disaster waiting to happen. In
fact, there are no accurate statistics to count its victims or the dollar
cost to the taxpayers. The average citizen has very little understanding
of the complexities of law enforcement, much less those of bad law enforcement
and its effect on their rights, freedoms, and safety. Common sense dictates
that the people in law enforcement mirror our society. They bring to
their job all of the ills of society. The obvious difference is the
unfettered power and control they have over your life. The single most
important authority that law enforcement has, to serve justice and the
people, is the truth. A police officer armed with the truth and the
character of his convictions can truly protect and serve. On the other
hand a bad police officer with a lack of character, can and will, lie
to achieve what ever his or her goals may be. A single lie told by a
bad officer can cost the recipient or a loved one their family, freedom,
fortune, future, and in some cases even their life.
Seven years ago, long before
we took on the role of reporters we both were involved, along with other
citizens in forming a citizen study group. This study group took on
the task of taking a hard look at law enforcement, the judiciary and
local government in Jackson County, Oregon. Jackson County is home to
several small towns, most of them having a police department. Medford
is the largest. Shortly after the group was formed we began to hold
public meetings to get public input on numerous issues.
During the first meeting
held, we heard a host of complaints from citizens about Jackson County
police departments. Most of the complaints were about the Medford Police
Department (MPD). In the beginning we just assumed that was because
M.P.D. had the largest concentration of businesses and people, therefore
police contact with citizens would be higher, therefore complaint numbers
would be higher.
After a year of public meetings
one thing became very clear from the citizens complaints. (1) These
complaints were from people that lived all over Southern Oregon and
Northern California, not just those living in and around Medford. (2)
The complaints were of a much more serious nature in Medford. These
complaints were not the usual, I was not speeding, the cop was a jerk,
or the cop lied in his report. The complaints on M. P. D. included the
normal ones mentioned above, but they also included excessive force,
the taking of property, cash , lying under oath in court, lying on police
reports, soliciting sex, and even the threat of retribution if a complaint
Most of the members of our
study group found it very hard to listen to some of the complaints against
M.P.D. because many of our members have friends and family who work
for M.P.D. and we know that the Medford Police Department has some of
the finest police officers in law enforcement in their employment .
However as a study group we have continued to gather information on
every law enforcement department in Jackson County and because M.P.D.
still has the highest complaint numbers made to our study group, they
have become the main object of our investigation. In our opinion M.P.D.
has a host of problems, one of the most obvious is they have to many
cowboys on the street, mainly on night shift, that think the rules don’t
apply to them. Maybe they need to be told that one third of the work
force in this county works either swing shift or graveyard and not everyone
out late is a criminal. Maybe the bad officers need to look up probable
cause and while they have the book open check out the Constitution and
the Bill of Rights. A glaring fact that has been brought to our attention
is that there are a lot of fine men and women that wear that same uniform
and they are sick and tired of being judged, because of the bad results
from the bad practices that bad officers pull on the citizens of Medford.
Another M.P.D. problem is that they have a “good old boy”
group that has been there far to long and we have been told by people
who work there now, and people that have worked for M.P.D. in the past,
that it’s very hard to make rank unless you belong to that group.
One such member of the “good old boy” group is Lt. Tim George.
George has been on the force for 28 years and recently announced he
would run for Jackson County Sheriff in the next election. All citizens
should look close and hard at the survey at the end of this article
before giving him their vote. And, while looking long and hard they
need to realize the survey was taken from a broad section of Medford
On the positive side, citizens
should not despair. Things are looking up as the word is some of the
“good old boys” of M.P.D. are leaving. Now we need to keep
them from coming back and double dipping off the taxpayers. Another
of the “good old boys” is Chief Melgren, or as the working
cops of M.P.D. refer to him, Old R.O.D. (retired on duty). The way we
see it, if Chief Melgren knows what has been going on for years and
has done nothing about it he needs to go. If the chief has been there
all of these years and did not know what was going on, he still needs
As a study group, we have
a booth every year at the Jackson County Fair and every year we do random
polling on different issues. Most of the surveys ask the person’s
age, political affiliation, whether male or female and how the person
feels about different political issues. This year we added a local law
The survey read: In your
opinion which of the following police agencies in our area have the
reputation for being the most violent or corrupt. (1) Oregon State Police
(2) Jackson County Sheriff (3) Medford Police Dept.
Keep in mind that this is
not a scientific survey or an in-house statistic, but a random poll
of adult fair goers. Out of the 106 people surveyed the Oregon State
Police had zero votes, the Jackson County Sheriffs Department received
five and the Medford Police Department one hundred and one.
Before sending this article
to press we called Lt. Mike Moran, M.P.D’s media officer for comment.
As of press time he had not returned our call.
M.P.D. and the “good
old boys” will be featured in our next edition.
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