Telling the Truth about State Trooper Cuts

By Representative Dave Hunt (D-Gladstone). Rep. Hunt represents northern Clackamas County and serves as Assistant Democratic Leader.

House Majority Leader Wayne Scott has been claiming an increase in Oregon State Troopers, but the facts outweigh the rhetoric: House Republicans cut troopers in 2005.

'The 2005 Legislature reduced the number by 20 troopers' according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Office. 'As a result of sworn staff reductions, almost all of the state is without 24-hour coverage, patrol areas have been expanded, many duties have been eliminated, response time has increased, and officer safety has been compromised.' Read it yourself.

When these state trooper cuts were proposed in House Bill 5167, I and other Democratic legislators stood up on the House floor to strongly object and vote "no" on these cuts. Strangely, Rep. Scott defended these state trooper cuts and voted 'yes' along with a narrow majority of the House.

What do these cuts mean in real numbers? In the 1979-81 biennium, there were 665 sworn full-time patrol troopers in Oregon. After last year's cuts, there were only 309 remaining -- a cut of more than half of our state troopers! Meanwhile, Oregon's population is up by over one million people (a 40 percent increase), highway traffic is up, and meth trafficking is up.

In light of our improving economy and increasing revenue, it's amazing that the House Republican leadership pushed through budgets in 2005 that increased school class sizes, reduced Head Start slots, eliminated health care for needy Oregonians, refused to create a rainy day fund, cut funding for Oregon's District Attorneys, AND cut the number of state troopers.

It's even more amazing that Rep. Scott and the House Republican leadership are willing to spend money on auditing OSP and on studying the potential transfer of patrol responsibilities to county sheriffs -- which is opposed by both OSP and the Sheriffs -- but they are unwilling to spend money on actually putting more state troopers on the road.

Ensuring an adequately funded OSP is one of the most important things we can do to guarantee the safety of our citizens, the economic prosperity of our state, and success combating the meth epidemic. To achieve that goal, it's time for new leadership in the Oregon House of Representatives.

Comments

  • Garlynn (unverified)
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    I'd much rather have fully-funded schools than more state troopers... so maybe, Republican spin and dishonesty aside, this isn't such a bad thing?

    Perhaps a large state trooper force is an anachronism, a thing of the past, and no longer as necessary to the proper function of the state?

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    Depends on what level of professionalism you expect from the people that you authorize to engage in violence on behalf of your gummint.

    I want real pros holding the guns. I also want the number of officers needed to be decided in consultation with law enforcement professionals, rather than being just another chunk of pie to be discarded by the folks who are intent on throwing the entire pie in the garbage ASAP.

    <hr/>

    Maybe we should just put out a want ad for volunteers with a "concealed carry" permit.

    Yeah, That's the ticket. Maybe they'd be willing to pay us for every "perp" they get to shoot. A Kinda reverse bounty deal.

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    Garlynn, Oregon can afford BOTH adequately-funded schools AND a reasonable number of State Police. In fact, those are both key components of the type of Oregon that I want to pass on to my kids.

    Under the current House Republican leadership regime, we've achieved neither. Under new Democratic House leadership, we can and will have both.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Gee, I wonder how many state troopers Oregon could afford with a REAL minimum corporate income tax unlike the one we have now that is set at one roll of quarters? Per year.

    That's the same exact rate it was 80 years ago, or about the last time a Republican was governor.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Thanks, Representative Hunt, for blowing the whistle on an old political trick. The Republicans cut a dollar and then crow about restoring a dime.

    Although I'm not a fan of having a cop on every corner, it's clear that Oregon State Police patrols are stretched way too thin. There are rural areas of this state without law enforcement for a hundred miles. There are unsafe drivers putting all of us at peril on the hiways.

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    Kudos to Rep. Hunt for a great column.

    It is difficult to fully grasp the importance of the OSP from Portland (that's not meant as an insult to anyone), because they are not Portland's primary law enforcement agency. In much of Oregon, people depend on the OSP in the same way that the metro area depends on local police.

    Now, it's easy to point out that these rural Oregonians too often choose Republicans to represent them, but it would be more satisfying to turn that trend around. We've got an opportunity to do that with Jean Cowan in House District 10 (disclosure: I work for her campaign)--one of our strongest 2006 challengers. We can all agree that Dave Hunt ought to be in the MAJORITY leadership, right?

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    Give 'em heck Dave. 2nd CD has the same kind of nonsense votes being made on its behalf by waldenbush. Thanks, Chuck

  • LT (unverified)
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    I'd much rather have fully-funded schools than more state troopers... so maybe, Republican spin and dishonesty aside, this isn't such a bad thing? Perhaps a large state trooper force is an anachronism, a thing of the past, and no longer as necessary to the proper function of the state?

    As someone in a rural county about the tradeoff between schools and state troopers. Not to mention the other state services, like the promises made when Fairview was closed and MR/DD residents had to find care in their own communities.

    But there are some legislators who repeat "we must spend wisely" as a mantra. Don't ask for details, they will just respond with a soundbite as if citizens have a lotta nerve asking what should be cut to pay for promised services of any kind.

    We did not have open public debate on budget tradeoffs in 2005 and there is no guarantee we will in 2007 unless we elect leadership willing to do all the budget debates in public. I don't believe Republicans are capable of electing such leadership in the House.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    It is difficult to fully grasp the importance of the OSP from Portland (that's not meant as an insult to anyone), because they are not Portland's primary law enforcement agency. In much of Oregon, people depend on the OSP in the same way that the metro area depends on local police.

    If true, isn't that what county sheriffs are supposed to do, paid for with county taxes from the people they serve? There is proably a need for the state to provide some technical support and other services to local police agencies. But I am not sure there is a need for uniformed state police. It appears to be another transfer of tax dollars from urban Democrats to the rural Republicans who send anti-government legislators to Salem.

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    All Oregon counties have state freeways and highways going through them. Our state has a clear obligation to patrol these highways, especially in light of the meth that is trafficked on those highways and dumped into all our communities - rural and urban.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    All Oregon counties have state freeways and highways going through them. Our state has a clear obligation to patrol these highways, especially in light of the meth that is trafficked on those highways and dumped into all our communities - rural and urban.

    Frankly, Representative, that is a lot of hooey.

    If the purpose of state police in patrolling highways is to catch meth trafficking then we really are wasting our money. Resources for meth enforcement need to be targeted where they will do some good. Right now, we can't even afford to shut down known drug houses in Portland.

    Of course, catching meth traffickers isn't the purpose or patrolling state highways. The purpose is mostly to enforce traffic laws. Local jurisdictions are more than willing to take on that function, just as they provide police protection for most other state property that happens to be in their jurisdiction.

    This seems to be an obvious case of duplication to no purpose.

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    Ross, I suggest you talk with your local law enforcement officers and I think you'll hear they they greatly value OSP and want to restore the troopers who have been cut so dramatically. Local police in Oregon don't have the resources to cover state freeways and highways -- for traffic enforcement or meth interdiction.

    Under House Republican leadership, Oregon now ranks 50th among states in state troopers per capita. It's no wonder that traffic accidents and meth trafficking are up in Oregon. Even my six-year old daughter can do that math.

    It's time for a change.

  • (Show?)

    Ross, I suggest you talk with your local law enforcement officers and I think you'll hear they they greatly value OSP and want to restore the troopers who have been cut so dramatically. Local police in Oregon don't have the resources to cover state freeways and highways -- for traffic enforcement or meth interdiction.

    Under House Republican leadership, Oregon now ranks 50th among states in state troopers per capita. It's no wonder that traffic accidents and meth trafficking are up in Oregon. Even my six-year old daughter can do that math.

    It's time for a change.

  • Mary (unverified)
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    See my blog, "OregonRepDaveHuntisanIdiot" at blogspot.com.

  • mary (unverified)
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    http://davehuntidiot.blogspot.com/

    <h2>Check it out for the truth on this teet-sucking moron in our legislature......</h2>
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