As of Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Oregon State Police is launching a new direct-call number, Star OSP (dialed as OSP or 677), to give the public an easy to remember way to contact OSP dispatch.
“Star OSP is just an easier way to get ahold of a trooper,” said OSP Communications Director Mindy McCartt.
To establish the system, OSP collaborated with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Oregon’s cell providers, namely: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular. Star OSP has been in development for three years, McCarrt said, as OSP needed major cell carriers to volunteer to sponsor the number. “We are still working out some kinks, but it’s better than it’s ever been,” McCartt said.
She hopes that as Star OSP becomes more popular, the cell providers will be pressured to provide the number better service.
“It’s never going to be perfect, but it’s the best it can be for now,” McCartt said.
The line is not intended to handle emergencies (911 remains the emergency number to call) but Star OSP is serviced by a live dispatcher in the State Dispatch Center 24/7 and is intended to be the main line for non-emergency state police services.
Non-emergency situations in which to call Star OSP include road hazards like tires or debris blocking the road, other traffic problems, reporting a crime, or any other instance where immediate response is not required. The number is also connected to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, to aid in dealing with callers reporting dead animals or other wildlife related issues.
When a call goes through, it will be handled just like any other call, McCartt said.
The call will go through to one of OSP’s two dispatch centers, depending on which is physically closer to the caller. Dispatch then contacts a trooper, or if the reported issue doesn’t require immediate response, will arrange a return call.
OSP will still respond to their toll-free number for those without cell service or who have providers that don’t support the access number, but the intent is that Star OSP will better serve the public by making it faster and easier to contact OSP.
“Now that the majority of motorists have cell phones, this easy to remember number will help ensure people have a way to report non-emergency issues directly to OSP,” state police officials said in a press release, “[Star OSP] was established as a way to better serve the public and ensure a fast and easy way to contact OSP for public safety services.” While Star OSP will make it significantly easier for anyone to contact OSP directly, McCartt stressed the importance of calling 911 in a true emergency.
“911 knows where you are and puts you in touch with law enforcement closest to you,” McCartt said.
While sometimes OSP is the closest responding agency, McCartt said, if OSP is called first and they are unable to respond, the state police will transfer the call to the local law enforcement nearest the caller but that initial GPS information is lost along with valuable time that can mean the difference between life and death in a true emergency.
For more information about the new program, contact OSP at ask.osp@ state.or.us, 503-378-3720, or visit the agency’s website at www.oregon.gov/osp/pages/index.aspx.