APPLES TO ORANGES OR CHICKENS TO BOMBS
GRANTS PASS, OR - At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday the 24th of March, 2004, Nicholas Gombos, accused of stealing a chicken named "Speckles", was arrested in his underwear by 7 armed Josephine County Sheriff's Deputies. While his story has been covered by many news outlets, the saga is far from over. Nicholas Gombos still faces charges of theft and interfering with a police officer. While man hours and tax dollars are spent continuing this story for the comic enjoyment of the rest of the world, crime continues in our county. Some serious, some not. And for some in the Sheriff's Department, crimes that just don't rate the criminal as highly on the Josephine County Most Wanted list, as does possibly stealing a chicken. For instance, let's say if a bomb threat is called into a school by a caller with an out-of-state phone number, speaking in what could have been a middle-eastern accent. That rated a one officer response and is what took place at around 1:51 p.m. on May 12, 2004 to a Grants Pass private school when they received a phone call from a woman stating, "The ... School will blow up now". Read: Sheriff Lax With Bomb Threat, School Takes Matter Into Own hands.
Upon receiving the 911 call from school officials it took approximately 18 minutes for a Josephine County Sheriffs Deputy to be dispatched and almost another 10 minutes for the individual officer, Sgt. Steven Clarke, to arrive on the scene at 2:22 p.m. Emergency Services also dispatched one firetruck to remain off-site until needed.
During the approximated 37 minutes Sgt. Clarke spent at the school he did no searches of the buildings and even though the school had not been thoroughly searched he called several staff members and one student, who had witnessed a suspicious vehicle earlier, into the main building to interview them. Briefly talking with them and then retrieving the last 3 phone numbers that had called the school he handed his business card to the Principal and stated that they should call if anything unusual was found and that he was leaving to contact a possible suspect. He left the school at 3:09 p.m.
"We were definitely surprised how low-key they (the Sheriff's Department) treated this ... it was our first bomb threat," a school official recalled. Officials at the school received no assistance to search their school. Nor were they ever given any hints as to what to look for. School officials who volunteered to put themselves at risk were the ones who completed the in-depth grounds, buildings and bag searches. Thankfully there was no bomb and the school has decided to hire an independent professional to help them create their own bomb threat protocol due to the lack of aid given to them by the Sheriff's Department.
According to Sgt. Clarke the call is still under investigation but school officials said that they hadn't received an update as to its status since approximately May 24th; yet for Nick Gombos, the alleged chicken-thief, his matter was expedited in a midnight signing of a warrant by Judge Gerald Neufeld. While Sgt. Clarke was not involved in the chicken incident Deputies Matt Tripp, Mike Burke, John Justema, Jeff Michael, and Sean Rarey were and the matter was resolved by Mr. Gombos' arrest in under 2 days from the time the Sheriff's Department was contacted.
In response to a statement made that there are plenty of other less threatening cases than bomb threats where more than one officer are dispatched, Sgt. Clarke replied, "I won't get into the political end of it ... comparing apples to oranges."
In fact how could one compare an alleged theft of a chicken to a bomb threat towards a school of more than 280 kindergarten thru 12th graders plus staff? While the Sheriff's Department states that they have no school bomb threat protocol, it sure seems as if they have "chicken rustling kingpin" arrests down to a science. Furthermore, the continued expense of the chicken caper comes at a time when Sheriff Dave Daniel and D.A. Clay Johnson are going to be submitting a levy for further monies to support their "underfunded" departments. If the Sheriff's and D.A.'s offices had a record of protecting its citizens and not fumbling with the fowl, it might just possibly pass.
As for "Speckles" the chicken Nick Gombos purportedly thieved from in front of the Murphy Rays Food Mart, it was returned to its vagrant state by the arresting officers. Soon thereafter a Cave Junction youth, Adam Abbey, killed it by allegedly ringing its neck. Adam Abbey is now reportedly charged with a Class C felony, malicious abuse of an animal, even though he claims to have euthanised the animal after it was hit by a car.
Perhaps if we lived in a country
that didn't need to worry about possible terrorist attacks and we
only had to worry about hen pillaging, it would all make sense.
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"And for some in the Sheriff's Department, crimes that just don't rate the criminal as highly on the Josephine County Most Wanted list, as does possibly stealing a chicken."