HERMISTON, Ore. - Staffing for the Oregon State Police has been low for the past several years, but a group of new hires are helping the deficit.
"We've seen dwindling man power and an increase in population," said OSP patrol sergeant Sterling Hall.
At one time there were several troopers on the highway in northeast Oregon now there are few. Pendleton has just eight patrol troopers and Hermiston has only five.
"There are times in the hermiston area when we don't have anybody working. That's sad," said Hall.
That is dangerous for drivers, unfair to citizens and it also strains other law enforcement agencies in the region who help out when they can.
"Personally, yes, I see an impact with OSP being far less on the road, there's also a limited number of county deputies so particularly in the outlying areas, outside the cities, there's going to be less police presence," said Captain Travis Eynon with the Hermiston Police Department.
Oregon State Police used to have a full office in Umatilla. Now there are just a few base stations around the region like the one in Hermiston that is in a business complex.
"It had a huge impact. We lost a station command, we were a complete office at that point with lieutenants and sergeants and criminal people and a lot more patrols on the road than we have now," said Hall.
These troubling times should end soon, though. 18 mean and six women were sworn in as troopers just over a week ago. Pendleton will get three of those and Hermiston will get two.
"It makes it safer, when there's a call for service, we're going to be able to send somebody. It's going to be in a timely manner now versus having to call somebody out," said Hall.
"They've always been there to help us and we try to help them where we can, and obviously with them being so short staffed the last several years, its really nice that they're getting some more troopers down here," said Eynon.
The new hires are now in the midst of academy based training but should be on the road within a year.