Snow Strains Iowa State Troopers
Iowa State Troopers Association is asking for more funding in the budget.Photo: Video by kmtv.com
Council Bluffs, IA - The Iowa State Patrol is dealing with staffing levels from the 1960's.
Sunday's somewhat unexpected snow storm put a strain on troopers already spread thin. Troopers had to shut down Iowa highways and interstates during the peak of the storm. Many were working 13 to 16 hour days.
"Normally scheduled for a 9 hour shift, I ended up working 13 hours. We're back at work today, no change," said Trooper Jared Kastner.
The head of the Iowa State Troopers Association says budget cuts over the years have thinned ranks so much that many counties don't have a trooper on duty overnight.
"From anywhere from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., there's an average staffing level for the State of Iowa that 7-10 troopers are working our entire state," Iowa State Troopers Association President Darin Snedden said.
Snedden is asking the state to allocate funding to hire an additional 87 troopers over three years. Snedden says the Iowa State Troopers Association has done extensive research into appropriate level of Trooper staffing. A model from Northwestern University's Center for Public Safety calculates Iowa should have 87 additional Troopers patrolling Iowa's roadways.
Snedden says the Iowa State Patrol has 363 troopers, down from 455 in 2000 before repeated budget cuts. He wants the state to hire 29 more troopers a year, for three years. The cost of adding 29 troopers is $4.3 million in the first year and $2.9 million in subsequent years.
"For what that money gets the state of Iowa and the coverage for law enforcement and public safety for the state of Iowa, it's money well spent," Snedden said.
The Iowa State Troopers Association has met with legislators and staffers from the governor's office. Iowa Governor Branstad's budget does not include any funding for more troopers.