The Florida Highway Patrol proudly graduated a new class of troopers Thursday. Soon 36 new troopers will be given their cruisers and guns, then sent to the state highways to protect and serve, but the agency is reporting a problem that could become dire if something doesn't change soon.
It is the newest graduating trooper class for the Florida Highway Patrol; all together, 36 men and women with their own individual reasons for putting on the uniform. While they'll be working for the Sunshine State, a dark cloud hangs over the heads of the graduates. It also plagues the rest of the agency.
SGT Kelly Bagnardi of the Florida Highway Patrol says, "We are still down 230 positions and we're always looking for fresh faces, people who are ready and eager to become law enforcement officers and hit the streets."
There are different reasons for the lack of troopers, but the big reason is salaries.
SGT Kelly Bagnardi says, "We have a pay structure that hasn't progressed in years. It is tough work. It can be stressful, and people are leaving for different areas."
FHP says these new troopers will be getting the same paycheck as these veteran troopers who haven't seen a raise in 13 years. So the question has to be asked: why would anyone want to become a trooper or remain?
Bagnardi says, "We enjoy living on the highway and helping other people, because in the end that's what it's about, being on the highway, helping traffic flow, and saving lives."
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is asking the state for more money for troopers.