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Budget forces Highway Patrol to halt hiring, training

Posted May 26, 2011
Updated May 27, 2011

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— The North Carolina State Highway Patrol has implemented a hiring freeze, and the patrol commander said Thursday that the ranks of troopers could be reduced because of state budget cuts.

The budget proposal Senate Republicans unveiled this week includes $193 million for the Highway Patrol, which would be a $12 million spending cut. The agency has cut $28 million from its budget in the past two years.

"This budget will reduce the number of troopers on the road, no question about it," Col. Michael Gilchrist said.

Gov. Beverly Perdue's budget proposal didn't include any cuts for the Highway Patrol, which employs about 1,800 sworn officers.

Gilchrist has already suspended transfers and promotions, which would entail higher salaries, to save money until lawmakers approve a final budget.

"We're going to discontinue basic schools, which means we're not going to hire troopers and we're not going to train new troopers," he said.

The money woes are aggravated by skyrocketing fuel expenses to keep patrol cars on the highways, he said.

Highway Patrol trooper generic Budget forces Highway Patrol to halt hiring, training

In an internal memo obtained by WRAL News, patrol officials discuss eliminating a "significant number" of positions because of budget cuts, although no firm figures were mentioned.

"In Wake County, we're shorthanded now," said Trooper Beckley Vaughan, a 23-year veteran of the patrol. "We're shorthanded, and we're still losing people."

The priority for troopers is preventive patrol, from running radar to catch speeders to checking safety violations. With continued budget cuts, Gilchrest said, troopers would do little more than respond to calls and crashes, which could put public safety at risk.

"Really, the people (who) suffer the most are the people traveling on the highway, not us," Vaughan said.

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  • billshannonnnc Jun 1, 2011

    when I went to the courthouse and saw the weekly list of seatbelt tickets, all written by the NCHP (NOT ONE BY ANY OTHER LEOS, JUST NCHP), I - a pro-law enforcement person - thinks the Highway Patrol could use it's wings clipped."

    Qwerty27807,

    I dont believe you. I would have to see it to believe it. I know that HP isnt the only agency writing seat belt tickets.
    Obviously, you arent pro-law enforcement as you've stated. You broke the law, good caught, and now you want the agency responsible for catching you to be downsized. I dont know what your definition of "pro-law enforcement" is, but it sounds to my like you are "anti-law enforcement" because you got caught.

  • billshannonnnc Jun 1, 2011

    Troopers dont decide the amount of the fines. The fines from seat belts go to the schools and the courts.

    I notice alot of people that have responded are complaining about troopers writing them seat belt tickets but at the same time I also took note that they were not wearing their seat belts as they have stated. I have no respect for people who dont accept responsiblity for their own actions. If you were not wearing your seat belt and got caught, quit complaining. It was your choice to break the law and you got caught.

    By the way, police officers write seat belt tickets all the time, not just troopers.

  • bluemax4195 Jun 1, 2011

    Qwerty27807,

    "when I went to the courthouse and saw the weekly list of seatbelt tickets, all written by the NCHP (NOT ONE BY ANY OTHER LEOS, JUST NCHP), I - a pro-law enforcement person - thinks the Highway Patrol could use it's wings clipped."

    Unfortunately I couldn't agree with you more. Well stated. Seatbelt violations?! If it's only the NCHP that's writing tickets for this violation, then this certainly smells of an opportunistic way of increasing revenue?! I HATE to think that's what is happening! But if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...

  • bluemax4195 Jun 1, 2011

    ASU,

    In response to your last 2 comments-May 27: You're more than welcome to believe what you wish with your interpretation of the law. The problem is, you’re limiting your search to LARGE counties. However, I’d like to see you give your theory a "try" in "Johnston County"! Take a look at the dockets for this county & I think you may find opposite results. This county has continuously backed-up dockets for speeding. I've had one lawyer (in another county) mention this as being a problem in this county!

    leo-nc,

    In response to your last comment-May 27: you are DEFINITELY the "exception"! Your "rule-of-thumb" may also be dictated by the county in which you serve, which would be understandable.

    Either way you & ASU can say what you wish, but I regress, using personal knowledge traveling this county daily. The bottom line: this "speed cushion", which you both speak of is at the discretion of the leo - PERIOD! Therefore there's NO WAY I'd use 15MPH over as a standard! Nuf said!

  • 1 awesome Dad May 27, 2011

    Phil Berger just added enough revenue in his budget so that every trooper will now have a scooter to do their job.

  • ncpilot2 May 27, 2011

    The responses in this forum justifying breaking the law and going over the speed limit to "convenience" those who speed is disturbing. Know wonder we have the rapidly increasing teenage death rate on the highways. Their parents justify breaking the law.

  • Qwerty27807 May 27, 2011

    I'm not debating whether seatbelts are a good idea or not. There is a precept of western law that "criminal" activity should involve malicious intent or infringe on the rights or property of another. The seatbelt law does neither, and the aggressive enforcement of pulling hundreds of people per month in just my county (for no other reason) by ONLY THE STATE POLICE is a good example of wasted effort. There are plenty of laws on the book that cops selectively enforce, or look the other way on. When you abuse the public with petty enforcement with such a ridiculous $$$ penalty (ASU: $25 goes to schools - $107 goes to "court costs"), please don't be surprised when people don't rise to defend your agency when you seek public support. (I was unemployed and hanging on by a thread when the Trooper laid another $132 hit on me, despite my begging him not to.) I understand "doing your job", but if you can't extend compassion and utilize common sense, don't expect it when YOU need it either

  • mky777 May 27, 2011

    What corrodes the public respect for Troopers is a chain of command that won't stand up for its Troopers that respectfully perform the functions necessary to support its mission and allow all these negative things to impact us politically. Seatbelts save lives. Speeding makes the crashes more severe, and I don't personally like going to anyone's house to tell them their loved one is dead and it could have been avoided if one of the above or both was not involved. I don't work for politicians, I work for the citizens. Do some think they do? The correct answer is yes. I could not begin to tell any of you how to do your jobs for the simple fact that I do my job and don't have time to worry about yours. Funny thing is that I never see most of you out there helping me out. If you need to target your anger at law enforcement, then focus it on me. I won't get mad. I'm just a guy that will listen and hope your day gets better. I only ask that if I'm out with someone violent, look out for me.

  • ASU May 27, 2011

    Qwerty27807,

    By law all seatbelt revenue is given to the school systems not to the NCSHP. So you get gave your local school system 132.00 dollars.

  • ASU May 27, 2011

    Qwerty27807,

    Other leo's also don't go to over 1,500 fatals wrecks and see citizens getting killed because they didn't have their seatbelts on. Don't blame the troopers they don't write the laws. Your politicians write the laws. So you they didn't enforce seatbelt laws maybe 3,000 people would die.

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