State Police working short-handed

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - State funding is tight and many state agencies have been forced to slash budgets. The State Police is no different and there will be nearly 250 fewer troopers on the road starting next year. That's twelve percent of their overall force.

Right now the state doesn't have enough money to train more recruits like these to fill those vacancies. Colonel Steve Flaherty says State Police are trying to tread water until more funding is available.

"We'll be able to make an impact," he said. "But it's constant catch-up and we'll need to continue to do more."

This affects other law enforcement agencies like Sheriff Rick Walker and the Amelia County Sheriff's Office. He says sometimes he only has one officer working late at night.

"They help us a lot when we're busy," he said. "They help us a lot with calls like domestic disturbances when it's better to have two people go. It's just like having an extra hand."

State Police say troopers won't be able to respond to calls as quickly with fewer people out in the field and having troopers working alone puts them at risk.

"Our troopers find themselves working by themselves oftentimes in duty posts that are several hundred square miles," Flaherty said. "It certainly places them in a little greater jeopardy."

About fifty troopers will retire or resign every year, adding to the number of vacancies. Governor Bob McDonnell has approved funding for two more classes of recruits to try and solve this problem.

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