Oregon to pull 20 troopers off roads despite $14 million boost

| 8/24/2005

Gov. Ted Kulongoski has signed a $14 million boost in the two-year Oregon State Police budget. However, it trims 20 troopers from roads in the state.

That will leave 309 troopers patrolling the state’s roads – the fewest in nearly 40 years.

New money for the department is earmarked for murder investigations and the state’s methamphetamine problem.

According to The Oregonian newspaper, the trooper cuts are necessary, due to increasing costs elsewhere in the budget, such as fuel, equipment and pension benefits.

State Police officials said they would need an additional $4.3 million to hire 45 troopers to patrol Interstate 5 round-the-clock. Ninety new troopers would be needed to patrol the entire state 24 hours a day.

State lawmakers have told agency officials they can appeal to the Legislature’s Emergency Board for additional dollars.

Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, who steered the budget through the House, has offered one solution for state police; he is encouraging the agency to identify troopers now at desk jobs who might be put back on the roads.

However, the Oregon State Police Officers Association said it’s not that simple.

“I want to clarify this right now: There are no troopers driving desks who could be on the road,” Dan Swift, president of the police group, told the Statesman Journal. “Someone has to do paperwork and watch over evidence lockers. Those jobs have to be done – and troopers are now doing those jobs.”