Alabama State Troopers Say Numbers Dangerously Low

The Alabama State Trooper Association today called on legislators and Gov. Kay Ivey to address what they say is a critical shortage of troopers on the road.

The problem is not new and is mostly the result of budget cuts, officials said.

Today’s weather could demonstrate how the shortage affects drivers and passengers, they said, with an expected accumulation of snow that could cause road hazards and incidents that demand prompt response from troopers.

“It’s days like today that our manpower shortage is even more critical,” ASTA President David Steward said at a news conference.

A study by the Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama found that Alabama needed a minimum of 1,016 troopers on its highways.

Steward said there are fewer than 300. He mentioned one 10-county district where four of the counties are assigned only one trooper each.

ASTA Executive Director Neil Tew said it’s gotten harder to recruit troopers and that the number of candidates who apply for the academy has declined dramatically. He said that’s partly because other law enforcement agencies pay better and have better equipment.

“It’s a huge problem and it’s got a lot of tentacles to it,” Tew said.

Gov. Kay Ivey has requested a $3.2 million increase in the General Fund appropriation for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which would be a 6.6 percent increase.

The agency requested a $5.9 million increase, with $3.3 million to be used to hire 30 new sworn personnel and $2.6 million for employee salary and benefit increases.