DPS Considering Furloughs For Troopers, DPS Employees

Wednesday, August 24th 2016, 4:31 pm
By: News On 6

State budget cuts could soon impact the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Troopers and other Department of Public Safety workers could face a 23-day furlough, but the state wants to keep that from happening.

DPS has lost several million dollars over the last two years. So, unless the request for an emergency $12 million supplement comes through, people can expect to see longer response times.

"Aren't we embarrassed enough by all the budget cuts going on in Oklahoma," asked concerned citizen Andrea Roberts.

The DPS budget has been cut by $12 million since 2015. They'll need that much back in emergency aid to keep operating with the already reduced staff.

"I think it's disappointing,” concerned citizen Labrisha Williams said. “I think it's frustrating to think areas in our community are being cut, important areas."

So now, DPS is juggling the idea of requiring all troopers and civilian employees to miss out on 23 days of pay to save money. How those days will be taken hasn't been decided yet.

Concerned citizen Marcia Bruno-Todd said, "23 days with no pay is detrimental, especially for people choosing to be public servants, and when it comes to public safety."

Since the initial cuts, DPS implemented a hiring freeze, allowed 50 DPS and OHP employees to opt for a buyout, and, they've delayed upgrading statewide first responder radio systems and network technology.

Those steps have saved some, but not enough.

DPS representatives say the cuts have put the agency in a critical situation, and there are no savings.

Bruno-Todd said, "That just makes me feel like there is a lack of accountability for our state officials."

DPS representatives say if the furloughs happen there will be fewer troopers on the road, so the public could see significantly slower response times.

It could also impact driver’s license testing and implied consent hearings.

DPS representatives say, if there is no relief, the furloughs might start next year.