Oregon State Police plans for potential budget cuts

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown is asking all state departments for plans on how to reduce their annual budgets due to the coronavirus pandemic. For Oregon State Police that might mean closing at least nine offices statewide including one in Josephine county.

Almost a decade after 39 inmates were released from the Josephine County Jail, the county is now operating with a fully funded jail and a growing Sheriff’s department. But, Oregon State Police’s vital role in the county could be changing.

“It’s kind of unfathomable and sort of frustrating to me because we’ve come so far,” Josephine County District Attorney, Josh Eastman said.

OSP may have to cut 17 percent of its annual budget. That could mean closing nine OSP offices, including one in Grants Pass.

“A fully functioning system, then to lose one of the three law enforcement agencies responsible for 20 percent of the referral that we get,” Eastman said. “When I saw that proposal, it was just sort of shocking how drastic it was.”

The Grants Pass office stands alone serving and responding to rural Josephine county along with covering area highways. OSP said if it were to close public safety would decrease, and there would be an increase in serious and fatal injury crashes in the area.

“To lose that portion, one of the legs of the table so to speak would be devastating,” Josephine County Sheriff, Dave Daniel said.

Despite the plan for some of the 16 troopers to move to Central Point, OSP says response times would increase delaying critical public assistance.

“If they’re forced to respond to a call in progress, so instead of Seventh street it’s Central Point, you tack on a half-hour or 20 minutes,” Eastman said. “Even at code that’s quite a distance.”

“It would definitely be a negative impact on Josephine county,” Daniel said. “The OSP office closing if it did close would be sorely missed.”
Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel said he’s already put in a request to the local public safety coordinating council, which includes the DA, to draft a letter to the governor. Their request – to spare the closure of this vital office. In a statement posted online, OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton told employees, “please keep in mind, this is a budget exercise to gather information and there is nothing below that has been set in motion.”

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