By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Jefferson County had one homicide in 2016 and one in 2018.
Last year, between May and December, five people were murdered in Jefferson County.
“It is a big concern to see that much death in your county,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Steve Leriche.
Five homicides in Jefferson County in about an eight-month period.
“What’s really concerning is you can’t really point to one thing in particular that causes it,” Leriche said.
Leriche can only speculate that a general nationwide increase in lawlessness and COVID frustration are partly to blame.
“There isn’t anything about our cases that can tie in to those types of events,” he added.
Leriche is worried the situation could worsen, with a recently approved measure reducing punishment for possession of hard drugs.
“Methamphetamine is historically a drug that has been associated with violent crimes in Jefferson County in the past, so for it to be more prevalent is very worrisome,” Leriche said.
He also says changes to measure 11, sentencing guidelines, could also have an impact.
“More drugs and changes of serious criminal sentencing laws,” Leriche said. “Those cause concerns for myself and other DAs.”
With the increase in homicides, Leriche wants more help for the county.
“Makes me think that perhaps our community needs to consider finding more resources to increase law enforcement in our county,” he said.
Leriche says there were around 10 murders in his first two decades as DA. Now five more have been recorded, just since may.