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Officials: DPS Due for Upgrades

By Daniel Cherry | Published 05 Apr 2013 05:08pm | comments
Governor Phil Bryant and a top law enforcement official are calling for upgrades at the Department of Public Safety.  Bryant says the improvements are vital to protect the public.
 
Public safety officials say Mississippi is in desperate need of more state troopers. The department is already short more than 100 troopers, and dozens more are eligible for retirement. Governor Phil Bryant says Mississippi needs a new trooper school and he's making that a priority.
 
"There's anywhere from 60-70 that could reach retirement very soon. So we have to continue to replace those. If we don't put troopers on the road, people will die. This is not a budget reduction that simply will be inconvenient."
 
Governor Bryant also wants to provide the Department of Public Safety with a new headquarters. 
 
"We need both. We need troopers worse than we need to building right now though", says Albert Santa Cruz, DPS Commissioner.
 
Santa Cruz also says more than 140 vehicles suffered hail damage in a recent storm, and that's making their need for cars even worse.
 
"We have some mechanisms in place now that I think over the years will start funding us with more equipment. Cars is our most important thing right now. We have to have vehicles."
 
With these kinds of improvements, budget limitations become a concern. But Governor Bryant feels DPS is due for an upgrade, even if it doesn't happen all at once.
 
"We can't continue to ask the Department of Public Safety just to serve as they grow and the demand grows. But just now, I think the priorities are to get a new school, get more troopers on the road, and we'll worry about housing them when that time comes."
 
Bryant says ideally he'd like to see a new facility in Rankin County that could house the Department of Public Safety, the state Crime Lab, and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. 

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