BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mississippians will see more MS State Troopers on the roadways by next summer all thanks to Senate Bill 2871. Monday, Governor Phil Bryant signed into law that bill which allows $6.9 million to produce 60 new troopers by May 2015. The last time the highway patrol received funding for schooling was in 2011.
Currently, Mississippi has 492 state troopers, but by the law the state can have up to 650. Thanks to Senate Bill 2781 the man power is expected to increase making the roadways safer.
"Today was a big day for us. The governor signed the bill that will allow us to have a patrol school. This is a very good thing. We've got 492 troopers actually on the highway patrol's sworn troopers. We have 120 that are eligible for retirement today," said Lt. Johnny Poulos.
According to Lt. Johnny Poulos, getting the $6.9 million for the trooper school took more than a year.
"It was a battle. But we can't thank the governor and the lieutenant governor, speaker of the house and the legislature in general for helping us with this and approving it," said Poulos.
Poulos says the funding doesn't just go to the school; it will cover salaries for recent trooper graduates, new cars, insurance, and equipment.
Once the troopers graduate from the trooper academy, Poulos says he hopes to have up to 60 troopers that can be dispersed throughout the state.
"Keep in mind; we have nine districts in the state. So if we graduate 60 troopers we're going to have to look at the district's that really need man power," he said.
One district that needs more troopers is Troop K, which covers the coast. Poulos hopes he'll be able to fill that void by recruiting more men and women from South Mississippi.
"The number one thing that we're stressing is that if you are looking for a job we don't want you to apply to be a state trooper. If you want a career, we want you to apply," said Poulos.
Poulos said he is hoping to receive several applicants from the coast. Applications will be available after May 1 at the Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop K Office located on Highway 67 in Biloxi. No applications will be accepted online. To follow all the updates on the application process you can click http://www.dps.state.ms.us/highway-patrol/.