SALEM - Budgetary problems in the state capital are going to have the proverbial "trickle-down effect" here in Grant County.
The inability of the Oregon Legislature to reach a consensus at its fifth special session on raising revenue will likely result in Gov. John Kitzhaber being forced to trim $400 million from the already tight state budget, and this will have a direct effect on law enforcement in Grant County.
Oregon State Police Post Commander Sgt. Gordon Larson said due to the lack of state funding, the John Day Post will lose two of its patrol officers.
This will result in a significant reduction in the number of hours the remaining troopers will be able to spend on patrol, and would result in lengthy delays in troopers responding to citizens' complaints, if they were able to respond at all, simply due to a lack of man-power.
"We have already received layoff notices and on Oct. 1, we will be laying off Recruit Troopers Josh Brooks and Erich Timko," Larson said. "Losing these two officers will result in a 66 percent reduction in patrol from the John Day Post."
Statewide, a total of 131 officers and 29 other staff members were given notice on Tuesday, Sept. 10, that they would be laid off effective Oct. 1.
That represents a 17 percent reduction in the state's sworn police officers, and of the 131 who are scheduled to be laid off, 101 of the officers work in the patrol division.
"This is bad news for the Oregon State Police and a bad deal for the people living in Eastern Oregon as we are the primary investigators for major crimes," Larson said. "In addition, budget cuts will force the Ontario Crime Lab to be closed."
In all, a total of $9 million will be cut from the state police budget.
Law enforcement is not the only area which will be taking a hit.
If some agreement on funding cannot be reached by the Legislature, the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton reportedly also will be closed with approximately 4,000 prisoners released.
In addition, the new budget would slash $200 million from K-12 education, $20 million from community colleges and $40 million from state colleges.