Friday, December 6, 2013

Mississippi Highway Patrol: Doing More With Less

A report from a Memphis-area news station alerts us to a problem at the Mississippi Highway Patrol: they do not have the resources to sustain their operations. In recent years, we heard reports that aging patrol vehicles needed to be replaced, but the funds were not available to comply with that request. This time, the problem is about personnel.

For years, the state has not appropriated funds to conduct a training school for new patrol officers. Looking at the latest Legislative Budget Office recommendations, it does not seem a training school is in the works next year either.

As Highway Patrol officers retire, they are not being replaced. This means those patrol officers have to carry additional responsibilities to make up for the lack of personnel. In some cases, according to the news report, one Highway Patrol officer has to cover several counties and response times are delayed as a result. 

Governor Bryant's 2014 legislative agenda items will primarily be about public safety. If this is his focus, it seems logical that a school to bring in and properly train new Highway Patrol recruits will be in order. Whether Lt. Governor Reeves and Speaker Gunn see a training school as a public safety priority remains to be seen, but given what is in their report, the odds do not look promising.

It should be noted that the Governor, Lt. Governor, and the Speaker all enjoy the personal protection of Highway Patrol officers as they travel to and from work as well as around the state.

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