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Brown pushes to reverse years of cuts to Oregon State Police

By SARAH ZIMMERMANMay 23, 2019

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Gov. Kate Brown renewed her call to better fund the Oregon State Police Thursday, after a state trooper who was shot 12 times was awarded the national medal of valor.

Nic Cederberg was awarded the nation’s highest police honor at the White House Wednesday for being the sole state trooper to pursue a man who had shot and killed his wife in 2016. Cederberg was left in critical condition after the shooter opened fire.

But the governor said that Cederberg wouldn’t have been alone that night if the legislature properly funded the Oregon State Police, which has nation’s second lowest number of state troopers per capita behind Florida.

“I do think it points out the need for more troopers on the road,” she told reporters. “We have half the number of troopers we did in 1980, despite the fact the Oregon population has almost doubled.”

Decades of cuts have left Oregon with only 380 troopers to patrol more than 6,400 miles of highways. State troopers operate on shoestring budgets and don’t have the funds to operate on a 24/7 schedule.

Troopers patrol highways and can be the first to respond to crashes and emergencies. Lack of staffing means it takes longer to respond to deadly emergencies where every second counts. But it also exposes troopers to increased risk, said Capt. Tim Fox, a spokesperson for the Oregon State Police.

“Like in the case of Trooper Cederberg, many troopers are sent out alone, often in rural areas,” said Fox. “It can take hours to send backup because lack of funding has left us with so few troopers.”

Brown proposed a $146 million investment through 2030 to double the number of state police officers. Despite drawing bipartisan support, the plan remains locked in committee though Fox remains “hopeful” about its passage.

Budgeters have asked for a 5% cut across nearly all state agencies, though the governor asked for a significant funding increase in her proposed budget late last year.

Fox says that this is the first time in recent memory that state police funding has been a legislative priority and says the potential funding boost would mean more boots on the ground to respond to crashes and other emergencies.

“That would put us in a position where we can actually grow,” he said. “And we believe we can make a huge difference in the state by saving lives.”

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Follow Sarah Zimmerman on Twitter at @sarahzimm95

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