JACKSON, Miss.–If you’re in an accident or your wife, husband, or children are stranded, or if there’s a disaster, you would probably want to know that highly-trained law enforcement is somewhere close. That’s one reason the Miss. House voted to fund a trooper school Monday.
Right now the Miss. Highway Patrol is about 150 troopers short of where it needs to be, according to the Dept. of Public Safety, the state agency that runs MHP. There are 120 troopers who could retire at any time.
The vote to fund the trooper school was unanimous, with all Democrats and Republicans voting yes.
It will cost you about $7 million.
The appropriations bill is now in the hands of the Miss. Senate, where it may see resistance. Some Senate members have said they have questions about how the Dept. of Public Safety spends its money after the agency was given money for pay raises last year. Some, like Sen. Brice Wiggins (R-Pascagoula) have claimed that the money did not make it to where it should have gone.
“I sit on (the Senate) Appropriations (Committee) and last year we appropriated in the neighborhood of $15 million for troopers on the ground for raises they were entitled to years ago that the administration at DPS did not give them.”
An voluntary audit showed the department did not misspend any money.
The trooper school has become a controversial topic, with some top Senate Republicans and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves sometimes arguing against it and Gov. Bryant, House Speaker Phillip Gunn and Sec. of State Delbert Hosemann and nearly 200 off duty troopers rallying for it at the capitol last month.
That $7 million would put the trooper class through highly specialized training that includes academic, physical and mental discipline, plus buy the uniforms and equipment necessary in putting more state troopers on the highway.
It would also cover salaries immediately after the troopers graduate.
“We know that we must train more troopers. If we don’t, people will die. Protecting public safety is the foremost function of government, and we owe it to Mississippians, and to the troopers who are already stretching to cover the state, to get this done,” said Gov. Phil Bryant in a news release Monday. “I thank the House for their leadership on this issue, and I look forward to action from the Senate.”