BEND, Ore. - The state of Oregon is facing a $1.7 billion shortfall for the coming biennium, and now lawmakers and the governor's office are hammering out a budget.
Gov. Kate Brown has proposed a number of budget-balancing cuts to mental health and public safety, including cuts to the Oregon State Police and its drug enforcement officers.
The OSP could see 18 drug enforcement officer positions vanish, which would affect many areas of the state, including the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team.
Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson is speaking out against the cuts, saying they will hinder the efforts to crack down on illegal drugs.
"We'll lose those two positions on the CODE Team," Nelson said. "That's two resources that don't get to be involved in reducing drug crimes in the county, and then assisting in take down drug trafficking organizations, which is huge on putting drug dealers out of business.".
The cuts would also close the OSP crime lab in Pendleton and delay the purchase of 33 new patrol cars until at least 2019.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter told NewsChannel 21 by email that the cuts would affect law enforcement agencies in Eastern and Central Oregon.
"The Oregon State Police detectives assigned to the regional narcotics investigations teams are critical to the success of interception of heroin and other opiates before they make it to those who have become addicted," Porter wrote.
He said his officers have responded to seven overdoses involving opiates or heroin in the past year.
Porter said if those OSP detectives are eliminated it could increase the amount of heroin and other opiates available to those with addictions, which could result in more deaths from overdoses.
Both the sheriff's office and Bend police say the investment for the CODE Team has shown results.
In 2015, the CODE Team seized 17 firearms. Last year, the number of guns confiscated jumped to over 50.
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana, the CODE Team has seized over 8,000 plants from illegal grows.
Gov. Brown has proposed more funding to help with the backlog on rape kits that need to be tested.
But many tough decisions lie ahead at a time when the state must balance its budget but also provide public safety.