OSP plan leaves out rural areas

The Oregon Legislature's decision to add more state troopers to state highways during its last session was a wise one, but the news last week that very few, if any, of those new troopers would be seen in rural areas of the state was depressing and very disappointing.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski originally asked for 140 new troopers for Oregon's highways, but the Legislature actually approved 100. That was a good step, but far short of the number really needed for Oregon.

Unfortunately for rural areas, the deployment matrix for the new troopers leaves many rural areas such as Burns or John Day out in the cold.

The new troopers are slated for high-volume traffic areas in the Willamette Valley, places like Salem and Portland.

There are so many different items wrong on so many levels regarding this proposed deployment plan, it boggles the mind.

Questions linger. For example, why didn't the elected representatives from the rural areas of the state push for troopers in their respective areas?

Why were public safety concerns of rural areas of the state seemingly dismissed regarding this important issue?

The issue is, of course, one of competing needs. Yes, high-density population areas need an OSP presence. Yet, the rural areas of the state, where there are miles of secluded highways, have a real, compelling need for more troopers as well.

Voters concerned about proper public safety, though, should be outraged, and they should be asking their elected leaders some tough questions. Either way, the state's lawmakers need to read just the OSP trooper deployment plan and get more troopers out into rural areas of the state.

There should be no wasted time on this issue because a solution is needed before fall.

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