The state Highway Patrol is trying to recruit more troopers as it deals with an ongoing shortage.
The number of vacant positions fluctuates, but there has been a consistent shortfall for years, according to First Sergeant Michael Baker.
“We have about close to 200 vacancies across the state,” Baker said. “We are combating those vacant positions. We currently have two basic schools, one of which started about a week ago currently in, and one that we should be graduating in the latter part of this year.”
Baker said the agency has to compete with other departments in pay and benefits.
The most recent budget boosted a trooper's starting salary from $39,000 to $44,000 and gave them an average 8-percent raise.
Baker said law enforcement across the country are also dealing with lower public opinion of their work.
“We continuously compete with other departments as far as pay is concerned and benefits,” he said. “A lot of people, when they come out of high school and they go to a two- to four-year degree college, law enforcement is just not as prevalent across the nation as it used to be.”
There are about 1,400 sworn officers in the state Highway Patrol.