State Grant Money for Traffic Enforcement: The Oregon Department of Transportation approved millions of dollars in grants to local law enforcement agencies for traffic enforcement over the past two years, but much of it went unused.
This comes after 2021 saw the highest annual death toll from traffic accidents in all of Oregon’s history at over 500 people, and the number of fatalities is on track to again exceed 500 in 2022.
“As a dad, the devastation is that we lost a child that was innocent,” said Russ Ceperich, whose daughter Bianca was killed in rural Clackamas County earlier this year. “The way that the legal system works in Oregon, there’s no justice for that really.”
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Oregon Has a High Rate of Unutilized State Grant Money for Traffic Enforcement
Local governments receive funding from the state to aid in efforts to reduce traffic fatalities, injuries and crashes related to speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, failure to wear safety belts, and failure to yield to pedestrians.
In the two fiscal years (October 2020 – September 2022), ODOT dispersed just over $4.3 million to almost 100 organizations. The sums received by various local organizations are as follows:
Three Hundred Thousand Dollars In Portland
- Portland: $251,500
- County of Washington: $229,600
- County of Clackamas: $156,000
- $155,000 in Multnomah County.
- $111,200 in Tualatin.
- Salem: $108,000
- $97,500 for Gresham
ODOT records show that agencies only spent 59% of the grant money they received. In round numbers, that’s nearly $2.5 million. See the breakdown of spending by local governments in that period below.
Between Oct. '20 and Sept. '22, ODOT approved $4.3M in reimbursable grant $ to #Oregon law enforcement agencies to supplement traffic enforcement w/ overtime. Less than 60% of the $ was spent as Oregon recorded its deadliest year on roads on record in 2021https://t.co/FRiv4wS4a1
— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) November 24, 2022
There are 63 percent of people who live in Portland that agree
- Most of Beaverton (79%)
- County of Washington: 58%
- When it comes to Clackamas County, 28%
- 54% in Multnomah County
- Tualatin: One Hundred Percent
- Salem: 52%
- 9.1% Gresham
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That money can only be used for overtime, according to some agencies, while others have trouble filling even the bare minimum of patrol positions for 911 calls due to staffing shortages. There is a risk to public safety and to officers’ own health when they work more than 40 hours per week, according to law enforcement officials.
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