Oklahoma DPS Says Latest Cuts Will Really Take A Toll

Thursday, June 16th 2016, 5:08 pm
By: Grant Hermes

After a troublesome year for the state's finances, the Department of Public Safety told employees some of them would be eligible for voluntary buyouts and the department would also be suspending the 2017 Highway patrol academy.

In an email Wednesday, Department Commissioner Michael Thompson told employees "state budget challenges" continue to "lead to difficult reductions in resources" and DPS had been "trying to exhaust all possibilities to avoid adverse effects" but it seems there was no avoiding the buy outs.

"The current funding that we have right now is not enough to maintain what we got," OHP Chief Rick Adams said in May.

He said his forces then were down to bare bones and they've had to deal with a rapidly growing population with a staff number that hasn't changed since the 1990s. Thursday, OHP officials said buyouts certainly wouldn't help that problem either.

“I don't know the exact number, but really just the loss of one trooper to retirement is going to affect, not just himself, but the troopers he works with, his partners out on the roadway,” OHP Lt. John Vincent said.

After this reduction, OHP officials said response times may be longer and troopers could be forced to rely on surrounding sheriff's offices or police departments, but they'll still be on the highways to do their jobs.

“We're still going to try to provide the best service possible for the motoring public for the state of Oklahoma,” Vincent said.

DPS employees filing for the buyouts have until the end of this month to request them although not every employee who asks will be given a buyout.