Lincoln County Sheriff Curtis Landers and his deputies rose to the challenge presented by the crowds visiting the coast, fireworks and the extreme fire danger over the Fourth of July holiday.
All patrol members were working over the holiday weekend, many on overtime, he told the commissioners at their meeting July 12.
The increased call load over the weekend — 102 calls on July 2, 127 on July 3 and 102 on July 4 — had very little impact, Landers reported. A typical day is 50 or 60 calls, he said. There were 11 arrests.
Fireworks complaints, he said, were counted separately. There were 42 of those calls on the Fourth of July. Animal services was working extra hours also, Landers said, responding to lost, missing and frightened dog calls, and to calls reporting dogs locked in cars.
“All in all,” Landers said, “Chalk it up to a successful weekend. It helped to have the education piece out front.” He was referring to local law enforcement agencies county-wide educational campaign to “Keep it Legal, Keep it Safe” with fireworks in advance of the holiday.
Landers reported on two significant events occurring over the weekend. Two Corvallis men suspected of setting a grass fire in Benton County along Highway 34 were spotted and apprehended in Lincoln County on July 4.
On July 3, the vehicle belonging to a missing Dundee man was located by mountain bikers prompting an extensive search and rescue mission that was initially unsuccessful. Robert Donough’s body was located July 10.
Even with the additional law enforcement resources required by those events and the demands of the holiday, Landers noted his staff was able to effectively respond throughout the busy weekend as needed.
Patrolling in Waldport on July 4th as he often does on the holiday, Landers told the commissioners he was surprised to note around 8 p.m. there weren’t any fireworks going off. While Waldport City Council banned all personal fireworks in advance of the holiday, Landers acknowledged some going off after dark, but said the number was significantly less than in previous years.
Commissioner Kaety Jacobson suggested next year the county start the discussion and education campaign earlier, and that limiting the time frame where fireworks are allowed might be a consideration.
Commissioner Claire Hall noted it would be a good idea to have all jurisdictions on the same page, rather than some areas where fireworks are permitted and others where they are not.
Board Chair Doug Hunt said, “All things considered, it was a successful effort to contain the fireworks.”
In an email, Landers summarized, “We are very pleased that awareness and education with the high fire danger resulted in a lower number of fireworks related incidents in Lincoln County. Our citizens and visitors took the educational campaign seriously and helped prevent fires. Education and awareness is key to an active enforcement campaign without having to issue a ban.”