More comprehensive data analytics could help the Oregon State Police (OSP) Patrol Services Division better project future staffing needs, deploy current resources, and project overtime needs, according to a just-released OSP audit by Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan.
The Oregon Secretary of State’s Audits Division focused on whether OSP’s workforce planning efforts adequately consider public needs and trooper safety.
The audit contains four recommendations to the OSP to improve the law enforcement agency's ability to identify staffing needs when developing future budgets, ensure consistent and efficient deployment of trooper resources, and better project overtime needs for budget requests.
“OSP’s presence on state highways is vital to the safety of motorists and their passengers,” Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said. “Better information and a more comprehensive approach could help build trust with Oregonians and improve public safety.”
OSP currently analyzes existing data to determine the impact its troopers can have on public safety but uses a method that primarily focuses on population — which experts say is one of the least effective methods. Auditors identified a more comprehensive approach considering OSP’s workload allowing the agency to identify actual staffing needs when developing future budgets and better leverage existing troopers.
The Audits Division also recommends OSP account for the changing law enforcement environment within its staffing strategy and methodology including assessing whether all current duties are aligned with the evolving nature of state policing public policy.
The state audit division listed the following reasons why this audit is important.
- OSP is a law enforcement agency with a broad set of duties that includes responsibility to patrol Oregon’s 7,000 miles of highways and support local sheriffs and city and Tribal police.
- OSP has eliminated 24-hour coverage across the state due to changes in its funding source in 1980 from the state highway fund to the state general fund.
- OSP has worked with the Legislature and the Department of Administrative Services to increase resources and restore trooper positions, yet still holds positions vacant to cover other costs.
- OSP troopers experienced additional service demands during the 2020 wildfires, protest response, and COVID-19 pandemic.
- Police reform has been a topic of national conversation in recent years and numerous bills have been passed on the subject in Oregon.
This is the second audit Fagan has released pertaining to law enforcement and police accountability. The Secretary of State issued a performance audit examining the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) in December 2021.
Read the full OSP audit here.