Man's arrests illustrate Lane County's jail space problems

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - When the campus police arrested a man at the University of Oregon with a stolen bike, bolt cutters, marijuana and heroin, booking him at the county jail wasn't an option.

The new campus force doesn't carry guns, so for safety reasons they're not allowed to transport criminal suspects to jail.

The city of Eugene Police Department, whose officers do carry guns, is short-handed. It was early Sunday morning, and Eugene officers were busy dealing with weekend calls, so they couldn't come to pick up the suspect.

And even if there had been somebody to take the 26-year-old to jail, he'd likely been set free soon, as he has been twice before in recent months.

Lane County has cut jail capacity to balance a budget that's been drained of federal timber subsidies, as in many Southern Oregon jurisdictions. Lane County closed 96 jail beds in June and plans to close 35 more this week.

So, the Eugene Register Guard reports, the university officers gave Charles Kyvelos a citation for misdemeanor offenses and a letter barring him from the campus, and then set him free.

On Oct. 3, Kyvelos was sentenced to 120 days in jail after being convicted of heroin and methamphetamine possession. Jail officials released him the next day to make room for another prisoner deemed more dangerous to the community.

On Nov. 4, Kyvelos was arrested for a probation violation and set free a short time later because there was no room, jail records show.

University spokesman Kelly McIver said the campus officers were well aware that even if Kyvelos had been booked, his stay may have been brief, and they had no issue with the city police not coming to pick him up.

"We know it's not always possible for them to be free to deal with people who haven't been involved in a violent crime," McIver said.

Attempts to reach Kyvelos were unsuccessful. A phone in his name was disconnected. The public defender's office said it hadn't been assigned his case.

The bicycle and bike wheel Kyvelos is accused of stealing were returned to their owners, both students. The city police plan to consult with prosecutors about felony charges.

The university started its police force this school year, with about two dozen officers. It says it will take a few years to be fully fledged. In the spring, the school plans to decide whether to seek permission from the Board of Higher Education to allow officers to carry guns.


Information from: The Register-Guard,

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