The need for more troopers on Mississippi highways is at an all time high. Lawmakers, and even Governor Phil Bryant are calling the matter an issue of life or death. Currently the Mississippi Highway Patrol is down 150 troopers.
"I haven't seen a patrol in 2-3 weeks and this is an emergency," said State Senator David Jordan. "We have 3 million people in this state and they have a right to be protected."
Senator Jordan and his colleagues were on the senate floor Wednesday debating the need for more state troopers and a trooper school, something Governor Bryant is also behind.
"Three million people, 82 counties, and you see a patrolman every now and then," added Senator Jordan. "To me that's a major problem."
Because of the shortage some troopers have to cover up to four counties, causing a delay in response times to accidents.
"If we don't have anybody working those accidents it overworks other departments," said Senator Robert Jackson. "The sheriffs departments and towns that are in those local areas."
The Senate Appropriations Chair says out of the 502 sworn officers, 341 are on the roads.
Senator Jordan says the shortage could be linked to fewer funds, but he also believes it's an issue of priority.
"I noticed last year they got 50 million dollars, this year it's 47," said Senator Jordan. "So that doesn't make sense to me. Something as urgent as this, this is a priority."
Budget negotiations for the Department of Public Safety won't start for another month or so and then the bill has to go through committee meetings before it's finalized.
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