Budget cuts put specialized troopers on the streets during emergencies
BATON ROUGE- The weather has state police working over-time, but a new use of troopers, current and retired, is preventing the extra work from costing extra.
State Police say every trooper starts on the highways and by-ways of the state. And every trooper that may have moved up from there has been sent back to handle this weather on a budget.
Trooper Russell Graham said, "A big event like this, state-wide, there's no doubt it puts a strain, but we're able to overcome that by moving people around, the guys working motor carrier safety, those administrative troopers."
The strain comes from state budget cuts. State police have trimmed about $30 million from its budget in three years and dropped about 100 trooper positions, department-wide, in that same time. Now, for the second year, an academy to hire new troopers is off of the schedule to save money and the trooper shift during emergencies is saving over-time.
Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said, "I think if you have a situation where economically, I'm not gonna have a cadet class, dollars as far as my budget is a lot less than they have been, I'm not being able to fill positions within the department, I've gotta think outside the box."
The next idea "out of the box" is bringing in retired troopers on a need-only basis to fill gaps with entry-level pay and without benefits.
"You just pay them while they're there, I think that's utilizing resources that are quite effective."
State police will keep troopers out of their normal work and on the roads through the night.