Troopers experience statewide shortage - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Troopers experience statewide shortage

April 9, 2006

Albany/Americus--The Georgia State Patrol is experiencing an extreme shortage in officers. We depend on troopers to enforce the law and ensure our safety, but they say it's getting harder for them to do that.

Senior Trooper Darryl Benton patrols the roadways regularly and says it's not easy, especially when:

"We are currently losing our troopers on a daily basis," he says. Georgia has less than 700 troopers manning the highways.

Benton says the shortage is certainly felt at his Albany post. "Our expectations have been raised as far as the ability to do our jobs, that sometimes puts pressure on the troopers," says Benton.

The low pay is turning many people away from the profession. "The average pay for a state trooper in the state of Georgia is right at $35,000," he says. That's about $10,000 less than what other troopers make in neighboring states.

"We're down to actually ten uniformed officers; we have usually run anywhere from ten to fifteen," says Sgt. Marc Ellis, with the GSP post in Americus.

He says the shortage has increased the work load among troopers. "The more paperwork they have to do, it cuts down on their time patrolling," says Ellis.

Many officers are leaving the uniform and badge behind, for better paying jobs. "We lost a lot of people to the federal government because they offer a better retirement package or more money," says Ellis.

The average GSP post monitors four counties. With the shortage, the job can often be overwhelming for troopers.

"When you have a trooper that's out on the highway because of the shortage, and he's having to patrol these four counties by himself. He's basically by himself," says Benton.

While the man power isn't fully there, Benton says their presence on the roadways is. "We just all pull together and try to do the best job that we can," says Benton.

Lawmakers recently approved a two to four percent pay increase for Georgia state troopers. It takes affect next January.

Troopers still enforcing the law:

Despite the statewide shortage in troopers, GSP says they're still looking out for your safety on the roads.

At the Albany post, troopers wrote 491 tickets in March. Officers issued 237 tickets for speeding, 117 tickets for seatbelt violations. They made a total of ten arrests, including eight DUI's and two arrests for drugs.

Troopers in Americus issued 365 tickets in March. GSP wrote 203 speeding tickets 49 for seatbelt violations.

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