North Woods, Oregon (CNN) — A law that would require the federal government to give the local sheriff and prosecutors jurisdiction over the death of a person convicted of a crime could be on the books, but not in practice.
“The law is still a long way from being implemented,” said North Woods Mayor Jim Rolfesen.
“But if the legislature and governor support this law, we can make it law.”
The North Woods Town Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution that calls for the town’s sheriff to have jurisdiction over any death or felony case that takes place in North Woods.
That includes any death involving the person who committed the offense, and any person charged with committing the offense.
Rolfesens office says it would have to work with the county to get that law passed, but there’s a way it could happen, he said.
The council has several other resolutions that call for the sheriff to exercise prosecutorial discretion over crimes committed in the town.
Those resolutions have a provision in them that allows the sheriff or prosecutors to make arrests on their own.
If that’s not the case, then the sheriff would have discretion to make the arrest himself, Rolfsen said.
The county’s policy allows a county sheriff to make an arrest in an arrest warrant, but it does not require the sheriff’s office to notify the county prosecutor before making an arrest.
The Northwoods Police Department has made about 100 arrests per year since the town started keeping records in 1995, Ralfesens chief of staff and spokesman, Scott Purdy, said.
That number has since jumped to over 100 arrests every year since 2014, when the department began tracking them.
When a person commits a felony, the sheriff has discretion to charge that person with a felony charge.
The sheriff has the discretion to arrest the person in lieu of an arrest, Purdy said.
He said there are currently two officers working the North Woods area who are certified by the U.S. Marshals Service to make that arrest.
Purdy said the department would need to work out some details with the Oregon Department of Justice on the state’s law and how it could be implemented.