State Police Working Through Shortage of Troopers

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- When emergencies happen, every second counts; however, when there is a shortage of Virginia State Police Troopers, protecting your family may take longer.

Sgt. Kenneth Hyden, a state trooper, patrols Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

"The car that just went there was speeding. There is always something to do," said Hyden, "We are getting by with 12. You learn to work with what you have. This is just a typical day for me."

A Virginia State Police study showed there are not enough troopers to handle the workload and patrol the state.

Just ask Meredith Meindl, who watches cars fly by on Interstate 81, but no blue lights following them.

"People will see that there is a trooper or they are alerted that there is a trooper, they naturally slow down and if you are watching how you are driving. You are driving slower, you are driving safer," said Meindl.

The study showed that Rockingham County has 12 troopers and needs three more, Shenandoah and Page counties each need two extra troopers and Augusta County needs six additional troopers.

"It would be nice to have more people. There are sometimes that I think troopers are pushed to the limit. They are overworked and they take a lot of calls that require a lot of time," said Hyden.

When there is an emergency, time matters and local rescue crews will respond within minutes; however, it could take a trooper a little longer to get to you.

"If a trooper is patrolling in Elkton and he receives a call up in Bergton or Criders, that is more than a 20 minute drive, even using your light and siren to drive a little faster to get there," said Hyden.

In Rockingham County, troopers try to respond to emergency calls within 20 minutes, but it can sometimes take up to an hour.

Troopers ask for help from local police departments, but if those officers are busy, you wait.

"The bad thing is that the vehicle may sit in the road for an hour and interfere with traffic and block traffic until the trooper can get there and complete his investigation," said Hyden.

"It could be a matter of life and death. It could be even if it is an accident, a hit and run and that person goes off and they may end up injuring other people. Definitely it is a concern," said Meindl.

A concern that Delegate Ben Cline is trying to address.

Cline is a member of a house committee working with law enforcement to attain more funding for troopers and law enforcement this year.

"Everybody wants a safer community, everybody wants to put law enforcement and troopers out in our communities in adequate numbers and the funding is the major hurdle to get past, to get those troopers out there," said Cline.

In 2012 and 2013, the General Assembly gave VSP money to hire 416 troopers, but VSP said those troopers only helped to fill vacancies.

"We've only begun to make up for the lack of trooper recruitment and training that occurred from 2008 through the recession, about 2011," said Cline.

"We are going to get the job done. We are going to do what we have to do," said Hyden.

The answer of whether VSP will get any additional funds will be shared in about two weeks when the committee's budget is released.


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