Fund more troopers
The Pennsylvania State Police are responsible for the primary law-enforcement duties for over 85 percent of the commonwealth. That number is only increasing as more local municipalities move to eliminate their forces as they address local budget shortfalls.
With the increasing workload of truck inspections, responding to increased traffic incidents and public disturbances, and receiving more calls for assistance directly related to the expansion of Marcellus shale drilling, additional resources and personnel are needed now, more than ever.
As legislators in Harrisburg debate and pass a budget for 2014-15, it's important to understand what the current proposed funding level for cadet classes will mean for Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association (PSTA) projects our state will still be 400 troopers below complement by the end of the next fiscal year, leaving our department with more vacancies than at any other time in recent history.
Looking toward the 2015-16 fiscal year, expected retirements will overwhelm the department's ability to keep pace with vacancies if we enter into that year more than 400 below complement.
The PSTA certainly understands these are difficult economic times, but one of the core functions of government is public safety. We urge the Corbett administration and the Legislature to recognize this most vital function of state government and increase the funding to provide for additional cadet classes.
If we allow our numbers to decrease further, it likely will result in station closures and much longer response times.
Joseph R. Kovel
The writer is president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association (psta.org).