New Troopers Hit Mississippi RoadsBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 16 Dec 2011 05:41pm |
51 brand new Mississippi highway patrol troopers are about to begin patrolling Mississippi's roads early next year. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the state's public safety commissioner believes the state still needs more troopers.
The new highway patrol troopers march and chant before their graduation last week.
More than 140 people started the training but only 51 graduated, among them is 29-year old Cindy Searcy who has been assigned to patrol Monroe County.
"Ever since I have been a little girl I have wanted to be a trooper. Knowing that if I save somebody's life, if I get a drunk off the road I might have saved somebody's life or slow a teenager down," Searcy said.
Searcy, and the other newly minted troopers, will officially begin work on January third.
The troopers are being deployed all over the state based on where there is the greatest need for more forces, says Highway patrol Colonel Donnelle Berry.
"Some of the counties where you have one or two troopers assigned you used to have six or seven trooper assigned. So we kind of allocate them on the basis of how short we are in a particular area. And basically the shortest part of the state was down south along the coast. So the majority of them went to the coast," Berry said.
With the additional troopers there are about 550 Mississippi highway patrol officers.
But Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz believes the state could still use 100 additional troopers and plans to ask the legislature to fund another trooper school this year.
"This 51 is going to help us. Plus the 5 that we get out of the re-hire board, that is going to help us. But we are still over 100 troopers short right now. And if the people we have that can retire did retire, we would be in a bind sure enough," Santa Cruz said.
However, the joint legislative budget committee has recommended a 20-percent budget cut to the state's highway patrol.
Even this trooper class was paid for by Governor Haley Barbour who used 7-million dollars of discretionary funds to run the school.
It is not clear if state legislators will approve the funds for another trooper school when the session starts in January.
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