Local News

Troopers Train, Try To Compensate for Shortage

Posted July 15, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— State troopers risk their lives every day to make sure the highways are safe, but a shortage of officers to patrol the roads could be jeopardizing your safety.

The shortage ofHighway Patrolofficers has led to a full training campus. Two training camps are being held there at the same time.

Becoming a Highway Patrol officer is tough work.

"You've definitely got to have a strong desire to do it," says cadet Gregory Taylor. "There can't be any second thoughts. You'll second-guess, and if you are weak in that point, you won't be here at this point."

Cadets train mentally and physically for 27 weeks.

"When we work -- a lot of times we work in rural counties by ourselves, and there's no help around," says Sgt. Denise Ellis. "If we're not physically able to subdue a violator, we could find ourselves in grave danger."

The Highway Patrol says drivers may also be in danger if there are not more troopers on the road. Right now, there is one patrolman for every 5,000 drivers, and the ratio is getting worse.

This year, the legislature approved the hiring of 40 new officers, not even half their goal.

"We do need more," says Richard Moore, secretary ofCrime Control and Public Safety. "If the public out there really wants us to continue pulling speeding back and keep these fatalities where we have and make sure that our people are as safe as we can, we will need additional resources."

It costs about $88,000 to train one officer. Some say that is a small price to pay to keep our roads safe.

"We're proud of the training we do," Moore says. "It is one of the finest law enforcement organizations in the world. And to stay there, we'll need that help. And I feel sure that our voice will be heard."

The Highway Patrol says the extra officers will help them take a more proactive approach with more programs like55 Aliveand Buckle Baby in Safely.