May 29, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Democrats Deliver One Hundred New State Troopers
to Oregon Highways
State Police Budget
Bill Clears House With Broad Bi-Partisan Support
SALEM—After sixteen years devastating
budget cuts, Oregon State Police will finally get to add
100 more troopers to Oregon's highways following the approval
of the Oregon State Police Budget on the House floor today.
"House Democrats made a promise
to deliver one hundred new state troopers to Oregon highways
this session," said House Majority Leader Dave
Hunt (D-Clackamas County). "And today we did what
House Republican leadership refused to do during their sixteen
years in leadership and finally reinvest in our state police
and the safety of our communities."
Democrats say the reinvestment in State
Patrol Officers is critical because the force has been slashed
from 480 officers in 1991 down to 287 in 2005. The result,
say Democrats, has been the elimination of 24/7 patrols,
an increase in traffic fatalities, unchecked meth trafficking
and backlogs in work at the state crime lab. The effect
has been particularly felt in rural parts of the state.
"In rural Lincoln County, over
half of residents live in unincorporated areas outside the
jurisdiction of city law enforcement," said State
Representative Jean Cowan (D-Newport). " As numbers
on the force have declined, response times have gone up
considerably. Imagine the time it can take one state police
officer on patrol to travel from one end of Lincoln County
to the other for an emergency call and you begin to see
the magnitude of the problem we have been facing."
Today's vote came after a procedural
motion made by Republicans to add additional unfunded troopers
to the budget bill and hours of Republican claims that the
budget was inadequate.
Democrats dismissed complaints by House
Republicans that the budget didn't go far enough.
"The politicians who are now
questioning House Democrats' commitment to police funding
are the same Republicans who slashed the number of state
troopers in half over the last sixteen years," said
Hunt. "This bill is a huge reinvestment that begins
to repair the damage done to public safety, health care
and education under Republican control."
Democrats also said today's vote was
simply the first step in a longer-term effort to fully fund
State Representative David Edwards
(D-Hillsboro) told the chamber, "The establishment
of a Rainy Day Fund earlier this session will help ensure
that this reinvestment is protected in the next economic
downturn. But we must continue to work to identify and pass
a truly dedicated funding source for state police and to
return the force to a level that allows for 24/7 patrols.
I'll be part of that solution and I hope you will too."
one hundred more state troopers will help to step the flow
of meth into the state from super labs outside Oregon, crack
down on drunk driving and traffic fatalities on Oregon highways,
aggressively pursue sophisticated identity theft rings and
go after sexual predators," said State Representative
Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene), who made the Democrats' case
for the bill on the House floor. "With today's vote
we have embarked on a period of reinvestment in one of Oregon's
most important priorities—the safety and security
of our families and communities."