Grant County loses two OSP troopers to budget cuts

Sgt. Gordon Larson

JOHN DAY - Oregon's fiscal and budget problems caught up with Grant County law enforcement as the Oregon State Police laid off two troopers last month.

Josh Brooks and Erich Timko, who were appointed to the John Day outpost in July 2002, lost their jobs due to legislative cuts from the fifth special session of 2002. They worked their last day on Jan. 31, reported post commander Sgt. Gordon Larson.

"The really sad thing is these two gentlemen have been really well received in this community," Larson said.

Brooks and Timko replaced troopers Jamin Van Meter and Michael Turner, both of whom transferred to the Springfield area. Turner and Van Meter subsquently were laid off as a result of the failure of Measure 28, the Jan. 28 legislative tax-increase referral.

Measure 28 did not affect Brooks and Timko, Larson added.

"We had two very low seniority people who were identified very early on in the cuts. ... They were already identified for layoffs," he said.

The John Day outpost retains five sworn state police, including Larson; Senior Patrolman Larry Johnson; game officers Steve Schuette and Jim Griffin; and detective Mike Durr. Schuette is due to retire this year; Durr is back on regular-duty status after suffering gunshot wounds in a gun battle with captured and convicted murderer William Almeron Hinton last year, Larson said.

Larson said the loss of the two troopers will hurt Grant County.

"It's a huge loss to this community," he said. "Eastern Oregon, I believe, is suffering disproportionately from the effects of these layoffs, but the whole of Oregon is suffering."

While not everything is gloomy (Jamin and Andrea Van Meter had a baby boy born Feb. 3, 2003, in Springfield, Larson reported), the budget cuts will strain law enforcement, he said.

"I simply would like to have the state policemen back that we've lost," Larson said.

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