Department of Public Safety Needs Troopers and VehiclesBy Daniel Cherry | Published 19 Sep 2012 06:23pm |
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety is asking the legislature for millions more in funding for the next fiscal year. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how DPS leaders say additional appropriations is a matter of necessity and safety.
Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz went before the Joint Legislative Budget Committee yesterday to ask for about a nine million dollar increase in funding over last year. Santa Cruz says about 20 percent of the Highway Patrol is eligible for retirement, and money for a new training facility is vital to keep troopers on the roads.
"That's our #1 priority is a patrol school this year. We hope to start at least 100 and hope to graduate at least 60. That's up in the air right now, but that's our #1 priority is a patrol school."
Public safety officials also say 35 percent of the Highway Patrol's fleet has more than 100 thousand miles. Santa Cruz says it's imperative troopers have reliable cars.
"We're not going to drive anything that's unsafe. We'll park it before we get into that category. We've got cars that have high mileage on them. We keep the maintenance up, but we need new cars...we need them."
Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves points out, DPS has about 80 cars waiting to be outfitted for patrol, and the budget would allow funding to purchase roughly 100 more vehicles.
"With 500 troopers that's almost the ability to turn over their fleet with 40% of new vehicles this year alone. So we certainly want our troopers to be in safe vehicles, and I think through legislation have ensured that will be the case."
Last year, Mississippi put a one year hold on new state vehicle purchases, but that doesn't apply to emergency vehicles.
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