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Legislation Could Help Trooper Shortage

JOHNSON COUNTY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- There's a budget bill moving through the state house that would give the Iowa State patrol a big boost. It would provide the department $6 million dollars to hire 33 new troopers. ISP says it would be a welcome relief, especially after a trooper shortage over the past few years.

ISP says as recently as a few years ago, they were budgeted for 455 troopers to roam the highways in Iowa. Now, they're down to around 357.

Gary Kramer with the Johnson County Sheriff's Office says they have a close working relationship with the Iowa State Patrol. It's a relationship comes in handy when two of the busiest interstates - I-80 and I-380 - collide in your county.

"They handle a large portion of our accidents on the interstate system, as well as back us up at times," Kramer says.

Over the years, the amount of help to local agencies across the state provided by ISP has dwindled, as budget cuts and retirement hit the ISP hard.

The overall result has been less manpower on the roads.

In fact, during overnight shifts, between 2am and 6am, there are as few as 6 troopers on the road statewide.

"Some areas we don't have coverage after 1 o'clock or 2 o'clock in the morning," says Sgt. Scott Bright with the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

The shortage means response times have been longer. However Bright says they still respond to every call, and the public has no reason to feel unsafe.

He says more cars on the road could augment that feeling of safety. In addition to shortening those response times the next time you're in trouble, it will make that relationship with local law enforcement even stronger.

"It's kinda like a brotherhood where we work together to get the job accomplished and to protect the citizens of Iowa and the people that are traveling through our state," Bright says.

"Accidents and patrolling...just having them out there to back us certainly would be a benefit to the sheriffs office," Kramer says.
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