Oregon 'pink slips' 131 state troopers

| 9/17/2002

Oregon's state budget shortfall has reduced the number of officers by more than a hundred, causing the OSP to worry about who will keep the motoring public in compliance with the code of the road. In the final days of Oregon's 2002 session, lawmakers were trying to round up enough support to submit an income-tax increase to voters in January that would raise $315 million to help fill the state's coffers.

The move came too late to provide help for a posse of Oregon's finest. Last week, pink slips were issued to 131 state officers as well as 29 other agency staff, according to a report in Salem's Statesman Journal. The cuts are due to the state's $482 million budget shortfall.

The Oregon State Police plan to cut $8.8 million from its two-year budget, largely through the layoffs. The reduction of 131 patrol officers is a 17 percent cut. It brings the number of troopers patrolling Oregon's roads to 323.

Reportedly, the number of troopers was 655 in 1980; the last year the agency's budget was part of the state highway fund. The budget then moved to the general fund as the result of a ballot measure and has been subject to cuts ever since.

"The impact will be huge," said Lt. Glenn Chastain, at state police headquarters. "With fewer patrols and reduced visibility, we anticipate there will be increased violations. That translates to more crashes on the highways."

"It would make better sense to do away with some of the DOT inspectors and keep those state troopers out there enforcing traffic laws," commented OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs, Rick Craig.