By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
The head of Oregon State Police said Monday he would cut about 200 positions and close the Prineville an La Pine offices if Gov. Kate Brown’s dire state revenue forecast proved accurate.
Brown has warned state agencies to prepare for a shortfall of $3 billion and directed them to cut their 2-year budgets by 17% due to declining tax revenues because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton told staff if those cuts are realized – about $6.5 million to OSP alone – he would suspend patrol offices in Prineville, La Pine, Hermiston, St. Helens, Tillamook, McMinnville, Albany, Grants Pass and Government Camp among a series of cuts across the state.
The agency plans to cut nearly 200 positions including up to four in Prineville and six in La Pine, however, tenured employees in those offices would be reassigned to Bend or Klamath Falls.
“The impact of this reduction will result in a decrease in traffic/public safety coupled with an increase in serious and fatal injury crashes,” according to the agency’s submitted reduction plan. “Response times to police calls for service will increase, delaying critical public assistance. Local, rural law enforcement agencies with strained staffing levels will struggle or be unable to fill OSP’s void.”
OSP Captain Tim Fox said the reduction in forces would mean troopers from Madras to Bend would need to extend their coverage.
“It’s going to severely compromise our ability to deliver police services to places that are already lacking in police services,” Fox said.
Hampton told staff the stations on the list of cuts are located where he could reassign tenured members without having to make them move, pull children from their schools or have a spouse quit work to relocate.
“These reductions were agonizing for agency leadership and while necessary, one of the most heartbreaking aspects of my leadership experience,” Hampton said. “These are not position numbers, but members of my OSP Family.”
Hampton reiterated that the recommended cuts were a hypothetical, not a layoff notice.
“These reductions, while dramatic, is a budget exercise.” Hampton said. “Now we do the hardest part, we wait for something beyond our control- the May 20th revenue forecast that will give us an idea what type of scenarios we are truly looking at.”