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Trooper increase thought to have little impact

December 27, 2001

Trooper increase thought to have little impact



Chambersburg, Pa.

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff writer, Waynesboro


A law signed last week that allows Pennsylvania Gov. Mark S. Schweiker to hire 100 more state troopers next year will have little effect on the number of officers in the Chambersburg and McConnellsburg barracks, a department spokesman said.

Jack Lewis, public information officer for the Pennsylvania State Police in Harrisburg, Pa., said the state Legislature passed a law raising the statewide state police complement to 4,310 troopers, up by 370 from 3,940, a number that hasn't changed since 1972.

The new troopers will come on duty late in 2002 following more than six months of classes at the state police academy. One class of 80 will start in January and 20 more will be added to a regular class scheduled to start in April.

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Some years, the department schedules as many as three classes, Lewis said. "It depends on attrition," he said.

About 200 troopers leave the force each year through retirements and other reasons.

Academy graduates start off with an annual salary of $41,289. In July that will jump to $42,709, Lewis said.

Applicants need at least two years of college and must be between 21 and 40 years of age. Most successful applicants have military experience, Lewis said.

Lewis said Schweiker stopped at 100 troopers because of budget considerations. Salaries, benefits and administrative costs for 100 troopers can run $12 million.

Because of the cap increase future governors will be able to add troopers as long as the money is in their budgets.

The 100 new troopers graduating next year will be assigned to regular patrol duty at the state's 81 state police barracks. That means no one area will get a big boost in police protection.

"We try to spread them around evenly so every trooper has about the same work load," Lewis said. "But we'll still have 100 more troopers than we have now and we're glad about that. It's been almost 30 years since we've had an increase. Even one new trooper to a station commander is a big plus."

Policy does not allow state police to release the number of troopers who work in each barrack, Lewis said.

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