JACKSON, MISS– One of the main talking points of this legislative session is the incredible shortage of state troopers.
Representative Tom Miles told News Mississippi just how critical the shortage is Monday, outlining that only 489 highway patrolmen are on the roadways, and 189 of those are ready to retire.
The state needs an ongoing school for state troopers, and the idea has pitched to the state legislature before. The problem has always been how to fund it.
Representative Andy Gipson has a solution, at least a long term one.
Tuesday, House Bill 505 was filed to increase sex offender registration fees and put the difference toward funding a trooper school.
“Right now, sex offenders are paying $25 (annually),” said Rep. Gipson. “We could up that to $100 dollars, which frankly, is a lot lower than surrounding states.”
Rep. Gipson said that amount of money would fund a small trooper school, but the option serves as more of a “down-the-road” solution. Immediate action is still necessary, and many bills are expected to be drawn up this session to increase the funding for more officers.
The representative has also stated that there are many bills surrounding the protection of law enforcement officers in the state. These “Blue Lives Matter” bills could increase the penalties of harming a police officer.
“I plan to take the best of these pieces of legislation,” said Rep. Gipson. “And draft a bill from that.”
There are four “Blue Lives Matter” pieces of legislation:
- HB 640 would create “Blue Lives Matter” legislation and define those protected as police officers, state troopers, firefighters, and paramedics.
- HB 647 could double the normal penalty for a misdemeanor or felony charge if a crime is committed against an officer.
- HB 747 would allow the judge to refer to the jury as to whether or not the fine or penalty for a misdemeanor or felony charge should be enhanced because the victim was an officer.
- HB 754 would allow for the crime against an officer to be treated as a hate crime.
News Mississippi will continue to follow the “Blue Lives Matter” legislation through the legislative session.