Thursday, July 29, 2004

My Interview With Lt. Chastain

Welcome to all of you who are visiting from Fahrenheit Fact! Here is the full transcipt of my conversation with Lt. Glenn Chastain. Remember, requests for audio should be submitted to fahrenheitfact@yahoo.com. Due to the size of the interview .mp3 and my abysmally-slow 56k, segments will be provided only to those with valid (reasearch-oriented) requests. Once again, thanks for visiting, and remember to return to The Recovering Cynic and a-sdf for election coverage and commentary as we edge closer to the national November showdown.

-TRC

Transcript of Telephone Interview

Time of Call: Approx. 3:30 p.m. Mountain Time on July 26

Party 1: Grant Libby (a.k.a. “The Recovering Cynic”)

Party 2: Lieutenant Glenn Chastain of the Oregon State Police (commission number: 750).

[Note: This conversation has been edited for clarity. Pauses, interpolated vocal sounds, and colloquialisms have been removed. To obtain an .mp3 copy of all or part of this conversation, please email Fahrenheitfact@yahoo.com with your request.]

Grant: Grant Libby.

Lieutenant Chastain: Grant, this is Lieutenant Glenn Chastain from the state police of Oregon returning your call.

Grant: Hey, how are you doing today Glenn?

Chastain: I’m doing ok. How are you?

Grant: Doing quite well. Thanks for returning [my call], by the way.

Chastain: Not a problem.

Grant: I had a couple of questions for you, regarding [trooper] deployment in Oregon.

Chastain: Yes…

Grant: Currently, how many [troopers] do you have guarding the west coast against terrorist attack or any other kind of incursion?

Chastain: Well, in Oregon…I can’t speak for the entire west coast, because I have no idea what Washington and California has…

Grant: Uh huh…

Chastain: But Oregon, we have got currently…24 patrol troopers whose primary responsibility is highway and transportation safety, and we have 20 fish and wildlife troopers whose primary responsibility is fish and wildlife and natural resource preservation…

Grant: Hmm. Now, have you had the opportunity to see Michael Moore’s new movie?

Chastain: I have not.

Grant: Ok. Well, in it he makes the assertion that there are only two troops who are guarding a probably 40 or 50 mile stretch of coastline in Oregon[I was at work at the time, and didn't have access to the movie transcript]

Chastain: Um, there are times when there’s none. (laughs)

Grant: There are times when there’s none? Ahh…

Chastain: We don’t have 24 hour coverage, we’ve [had] budget cuts for the last 30 years, and we used to have 665 patrol troopers, today we’ve got 329.

Grant: Hmm…

Chastain: Like I said, the entire Oregon coast is 300 + miles [and] only has 24 people, and we split that between couple of shifts, throw in some training, some other mandatory things, time off for vacation or sick leave, [and that leaves] 24 people for that much highway. There could have only been two people on the coast at that time.

Grant: Hmm. Now that’s interesting. Now, is it the responsibility of the federal government or the state of Oregon to make sure that the funds are allocated correctly?

Chastain: Our budget is funded through the state…

Grant: The state…

Chastain: We do get some federal grant funds, but federal grant funds usually have some strings attached to them. Usually we can use that for equipment and training and not for funding of people. So our money comes directly from the state government, it is recommended by the governor, and then it is passed out of the legislature by the Oregon legislature. We’re funded predominately through general funds, so we’re in direct competition with schools and with nursing homes and other human services and all the other services that the state provides through general fund dollars…

Grant: Why do you think the PD’s [have] been taking quite a hit?

Chastain: The “PD’s”?

Grant: The PD. Police department.

Chastain: I have no idea about [other] police departments. Our agency used to be funded through the Oregon highway fund, which is gasoline taxes predominately, and about 25 years ago we were removed out of that and we were placed in the general fund, so we became [direct competitors] for the same dollars for education and other human services, so, our funding has just, over the last 25 years, been stripped and stripped and stripped, and predominately our funding funds positions. We don’t have a lot of pass-through dollars and those things that other agencies can cut. We have to cut people.

Grant: Hmm. Interesting. Now, how much control would you say that the Homeland Security Department has over the police department? I mean, do they have the ability to make any significant decisions about what you guys do or do they recommend things?

Chastain: They make recommendations. And we do have some people who are in place who work in our office of homeland security in Oregon, which are in direct contact with the federal government’s homeland security office.

Grant: Is security in the west coast a significant issue to address in the future?

Chastain: Here again, I can’t speak for the entire west coast, I can talk about Oregon’s coast…

Grant: Oh, yes. Oregon’s coast. Excuse me.

Chastain: Well, we have some ports here in Oregon, and obviously if there’s going to be some kind of a problem that would be one area, there’s multiple areas that could be problems, so I wouldn’t call it any more problematic than anything else.

Grant: Um hum. Now what is the role of the Oregon state coast guard in protecting the coast?

Chastain: You’d have to check with the coast guard, they’re a federal agency and I do not know what their primary responsibility is.

Grant: Ok, excellent. Well, thank you very much for talking with me today.

Chastain: You’re very welcome, Grant. Anytime.

Grant: I just wanted to let you know first of all that this conversation was recorded…

Chastain: I knew that. I got that information from the cadet that took the number from you.

Grant: Ok. I will be putting this up online, or excerpts of this up online, if that’s alright with you.

Chastain: That’s perfectly fine.

Grant: Alright. And I also wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciate this, and that if you’d like to visit our website, I’ll probably be putting this up within the next few days. Basically, I’m, along with another friend of mine, the webmaster of a site called Fahrenheit Fact. We’re trying to deconstruct Michael Moore’s new movie and show people where there are factual misrepresentations and give them ammunition to fight the people on the left who are going to uphold it without thinking…

Chastain: And, like I said before, when Michael Moore, I don’t know if it was his quote, (I can’t believe he had some of our troopers in the movie also), I think what they were talking about was how many troopers were on the coast [at that time] or how many [are based out of] our Florence patrol office. [There are] only two patrol troopers out of that Florence patrol office. So, I’m not sure what context it was actually in, [whether Moore ] was talking about […] the entire Oregon coast, or specifically about the Florence office [… but] in fact, there were only two troopers assigned out of that office. [edited for clarity]

Grant: Hmm. You know, I have to check on [how many miles of coast Moore alleged] – basically he was using that one sole example of inadequate policing along the coast to say that homeland security is a sham because we’re not serious about guarding the coast of Oregon […] I thought it was a rather gross misrepresentation.

Chastain: Well yeah, because there are so many entities that provide security and in different roles. Like I said, our patrol division’s primary responsibility would be for transportation safety, and safety along highway 101, which runs all the way up the Oregon coast. So, their primary responsibility is transportation safety on that highway, and we also have our fish and wildlife troopers, which are also state troopers, and they’re the ones who primarily do natural resource protection, but they are on the beaches, they are checking people who are angling, fishing, clamming, crabbing, so they’re out there on boats […], they usually have four-wheel drive vehicles, so there are a lot of people who are out there doing other things, but there are also police officers…

Grant: Hmm…

Chastain: So, a little bit of misrepresentation, but that was the story he was trying to portray. Well, you can spin numbers out however you want. You know that. (laughs)

Grant: (also laughing) Yes, that’s what politics is all about.

[At this point, the conversation moved off topic. I asked Lt. Chastain to try and look up some Coast Guard numbers for me, but after about a minute of searching I decided to draw the conversation to a close and finalize my thanks]