Mississippi lawmakers don't include state troopers in budget - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Mississippi lawmakers don't include state troopers in budget

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DESOTO COUNTY. Miss. (FOX13) -

Mississippi lawmakers are recommending a budget that's a lot different from Gov. Phil Bryant's on a number of levels, and it could drastically affect public safety.

Gov. Bryant is proposing $6.9 million to train highway patrolman, but the trouble is the legislature's budget includes no money for trooper training.

The Magnolia State is down almost 200 troopers from where they should be, and as of December 2013 they are set to lose another 100 troopers.

Mississippi hasn't had a trooper school in two years, and even if there was a school funded this year, the state would still be a class behind.

According to Lt. John Poulos with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, troopers in his state are being stretched thin. In most cases, one Mississippi Highway patrolman is covering three counties in the state, drastically affecting response time.

"Well if you have a trooper that is assigned to one county and, for example, if he gets a call for an accident in a neighboring county or two counties over, you're looking at a response time of close to an hour, maybe even longer."

Mississippi has not had a training school for troopers since 2011.
 
"Well a lot of people are under the impression that we have a trooper training school every year," Lt. Poulos said. "That is not the case. The funds for a trooper training school have to be approved and approved by the legislature. So every year we go before the legislature and ask for funding for a patrol school."
 
Complicating the lack of troopers in Mississippi, even if the legislature approved a trooper training school this year, it takes up to a year to get new troopers on the highways. Only about 50 to 60 troopers graduate from a yearly class, and the state needs hundreds at this point.

Add to that, 100 troopers are currently eligible for retirement.

"We are directly in the middle of the holiday season where we are dealing with a lot of traffic and motorists on our roads," Lt. Poulos said. "It's our responsibility to provide public safety to the motoring public. We are really at a disadvantage right now as for trying to provide that to the public."

Lt. Poulos said there is a problem not only with the numbers of highway patrolmen, but there is a problem with their patrol cars. Many of them have more than 200,000 miles and need to be retired, so funding is needed for that as well.

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