MONTGOMERY, AL (WTVM/WXTX) - Off-duty Alabama State troopers arrived at the Alabama State House on Wednesday to show concerns about cuts to their agency in the proposed 2016 general fund budget.
The ALEA general fund appropriation that passed the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday could mean a number of layoffs to ALEA troopers and support personnel, according to an ALEA press release.
Those layoffs could mean longer lines and wait times at ALEA service centers, including driver license examining offices.
"The proposed cuts to the state's General Fund threaten the safety of all Alabamians," said Sgt. David Steward, president of the Alabama State Trooper Association. "We are here to urge the Legislature to pass a responsible 2016 fiscal year budget. Fewer troopers will result in lives lost on the highways and increases in traffic crashes and injuries. We need enough funding to give us the ability to protect the citizens of Alabama."
The troopers, who went on their off time, met on Wednesday morning at the state house with the Alabama State Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier.
In the last few months, the state-level law enforcement agency has worked to make lawmakers and the citizens of Alabama aware of the trooper shortage and how the proposed budget cuts would adversely affect the state.
A study conducted by the University of Alabama's Center for Advanced Public Safety (CAPS), which is independent of ALEA, recommended there be 1,016 troopers, including field supervisors, patrolling our state's roadways. For comparison, in 2014, there were 289 troopers assigned to the Highway Patrol Division.
As a result of recent legislation, newly created ALEA has reallocated personnel through a singular state police command structure resulting in 431 troopers who now are patrolling Alabama highways. The increase, the ALEA says in the press release, leaves them at 42 percent of the recommended number.
"A 2014 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that the economic loss attributed to motor vehicle crashes in the United States is $871 billion annually," said Sgt. Steward. "Can we really afford not to fund our State Troopers?"