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Are there enough troopers to keep Pennsylvania safe?

July 13, 2004

The Pennsylvania Legislature put millions in the budget just signed by Gov. Ed Rendell to pay for more state troopers, but they may not be hired because the governor's not convinced there is a need.

The most recent studies of state police staffing needs are several years old. As reluctant as we are to suggest that the answer is another study, it just might be the solution in this case.

Depending on who's doing the counting, the Legislature added $4 million or $7.2 million to the budget to train and equip 90 new state troopers.

The troopers' union said even 90 would be inadequate, but state police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller has told Rendell there's no need for additional personnel.

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Bruce A. Edwards, president of the troopers' association, told The Associated Press that a 2001 study by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee called for 370 new positions.

Since then, 100 positions have been created. Retirements could thin the ranks considerably, Edwards said, because some troopers will elect to leave before a new contract is ratified that might cut health benefits. Those who retire before the new pact takes effect will be locked in to the old benefits system.

As the AP report notes, troopers are the only police force covering about 85 percent of the state's land area.

Are there too many or too few troopers and will many current troopers leave this year to preserve the health benefits they currently have?

We recommend two things - another study of workload and the force needed to accomplish it successfully and some communication with current troopers. Not only would they talk about retirement, but also about whether there are enough of them now to do the job right.

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