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Brewster: Lawmakers Need to Address Dwindling State Police Ranks
On April 5, 2012
McKeesport, April 5, 2012 — Calling it a serious public safety issue, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today said lawmakers must find a way to replace retiring state troopers.
“We cannot expect the state police to provide more service with significantly fewer troopers,” Brewster said. “Failing to solve this problem will compromise police protection, lead to unacceptable delays – and endanger people.”
Brewster said expected state police retirements in the coming years would reduce the number of troopers to 3,924 by 2015, or 765 fewer than the department’s authorized complement. Unless funds are provided to train new cadets, he said the problem will only worsen in future years.
In his 2012-13 budget address, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed freezing state police funding at this fiscal year’s level and only provided enough dollars to train 115 new troopers – only about a third of the number necessary to maintain adequate staffing levels.
Brewster said the state police average 150 retirements a year. He said there have already been 180 retirements this year, with still three months remaining in the fiscal year.
“While we all recognize that this is a difficult budget year, state police service is not an area we can skimp on,’ Brewster said. “The General Assembly needs to find a reliable and dedicated means to adequately fund the state police. A restructuring of the Marcellus Shale Extraction fee distribution could provide the necessary funds.”
Apart from the expected wave of retirements, Brewster said state police resources have already been stretched thin in recent years due to newly imposed state and federal mandated responsibilities. He added that the recession has also compelled a growing number of municipalities to disband their local departments and rely solely on the state police for primary police service.
According to state police statistics, troopers patrol 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s municipalities and 83 percent of the state’s land area.
“If we don’t adequately fund the state police, we will begin to see stations close down, response time suffer and unacceptable backlogs in many of the laboratory and specialized services the department provides,” Brewster said.
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