Cuts to the Department of Public Safety during the recession have left some Iowa counties without a single state trooper in residence. Now, the shortage may be alleviated under a justice system budget bill at the Statehouse.
Under the bill, the Department of Public Safety would receive about $6 million to hire 33 new troopers. Representative Gary Worthan (R-Storm Lake) says in the overnight hours, there are as few as 6 patrol officers on duty in the entire state.
“Small town departments, small county sheriff departments that depend on highway patrol for backup are struggling,” Worthan said. “I've been approached by county supervisors who are telling me that they have to add deputies because they can't count on highway patrol for backup anymore.”
Worthan says the head of the Department of Public Safety has assured him that if the money comes through, there will be at least one trooper in every county in the state. Cutbacks also hit corrections officers hard, but a Republican panel turned down an amendment to the appropriations bill that would have hired back more prison guards.