Reduced state tax revenues due to the coronavirus lockdown mean that the state budget will have to be cut significantly. Governor Kate Brown is expected to submit a budget which will cut policing by $27 million, resulting in as many as 200 positions being eliminated in patrol, criminal investigation, fish and wildlife, and office staff.
In addition to twelve OSP offices which have already closed, nine more patrol offices would close in Albany, Hermiston, Prineville, La Pine, Grant’s Pass, Government Camp, Saint Helens, Tillamook, and McMinnville. The OSP office at Oregon State University is also slated to close on June 30, when the University’s contract with OSP for police services expires. If the Albany office does close, the nearest OSP office to Corvallis would be in Salem.
Six fish and wildlife positions would be eliminated in Albany, Tillamook, McMinnville, and La Pine. As many as 39 positions could be lost in headquarters support, IT, criminal justice information services, human resources, office of professional standards, and dispatch. Further, 18 positions in fleet, the Oregon State Athletic Commission, procurement, and training would be in jeopardy.
OSP administration and union alike are displeased with the prospect. They describe the state police as short-staffed already, citing increasing frequency of speeding on Oregon highways as one negative result. In addition, once positions are eliminated and former OSP officers have moved on to other jobs, they cannot be easily replaced. Only a small fraction of interested applicants can pass the combined physical exam, written entrance exam, background check, and command-level interview before they are even accepted for the months-long training program.
OSP hopes that the revenue forecast set for May 20 will give them a better idea of what to expect, and whether money may be coming from the state’s “rainy-day” fund.
More information can be found at the State Police blog.
By John M. Burt