Medford police may go outside city to help stop crime

On May 13, I was traveling to California, and at about 5:30 a.m., I was at Milepost 10 on the north side near the old rest stop when I spotted a Medford city police car sitting perpendicular to Interstate 5. I thought it was odd but continued on. When I approached the state line at Milepost 1 near Hilt I came upon another Medford city police car going southbound and turning left to go back north. This has bothered me ever since. Maybe you missed reporting that the city limits of Medford has been expanded to the California border, or that crime has been eliminated in Medford and the city police were fighting crime elsewhere. I have talked to several people who pay taxes in Medford, and we all are wondering why their tax dollars are being spent this way?

— Jerry E., Jacksonville

We don't want you losing sleep over this one, Jerry, so we'll try to come up with a rational explanation for the location of those Medford police officers.

What we found is that Medford police and other law enforcement agencies have agreements to help each other out during pursuits, manhunts, standoffs and other major operations. That even extends to big events: For instance, police from Eagle Point and Ashland help out during Pear Blossom, while Medford backs up Ashland on Halloween night.

As to your question, we went directly to Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen. He said his officers often assist the Oregon State Police and other agencies when they are looking for suspects who may be traveling on Interstate 5.Sometimes, the initial crime occurred in Medford or elsewhere in Oregon; at other times a suspect could be on the run, heading north from California.

"We're up there doing investigative work," Schoen said. "We're not up there doing highway stops."

Some of his investigators also work with agencies such as the FBI or DEA in drug interdiction cases. Sometimes federal, state and local law enforcement agencies work together on regional drug bust operations, often through the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Team, which coordinates with many agencies. In February, the team arrested a man suspected of dealing heroin near a Phoenix school and also charged a Prospect man with possession of 52 pounds of marijuana.

Schoen said that before officers are deployed outside of the city limits, he makes sure there are enough officers to handle emergencies in town. When it comes to crime, the criminals don't have any borders and neither does law enforcement, Jerry.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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