Mississippi’s highway patrol is turning up the heat on the state legislature for additional money and a new trooper school. MPB’s Jeffrey Hess reports that the troopers warn that the state’s public safety is at risk.
More than 100 state highway patrol troopers took the day off work to crowd the state capitol and call for more money for equipment and a new trooper school.
The gathering drew Governor Phil Bryant, Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann who all support the push.
Governor Bryant says now is the time to show support for the troopers.
"Our executive budget recommendation clearly shows the support of the necessary revenue. This is the time of determination. Are we determined to support the department of Public Safety? Or are we going to leave them at their time of their greatest need," Bryant said.
Jimmie Thomas , president of the state troopers association, says in addition to having too few troopers on the road, they are currently using outdated equipment such as bullet proof vest\
"It is vitally important that we have extra man power out there that can pick up where we leave off. That can back us up when we need back up. So many power pays dividends by help us to be safe. It pays dividends to help us keep the citizens of Mississippi safe also," Thomas said.
The rally is being viewed by some as a way of getting the attention of Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and the state senate which passed a public safety budget that did not include a trooper school.
Senate Appropriations chairman Buck Clark of Hollandale says what they passed was just a starting proposal.
"They are giving us good information now. We have got them high on our radar. I have told a lot of people, it is nmot how you start it is how you end up," Clarke said.
In a statement, Lt. Governor Reeves says he is open to discussing a trooper school but also notes that a number of other groups have come to the legislature seeking new funds.
The budget will not be finalized until near the end of the session in late March.