OK trooper advocates: OK can't afford more cuts

Posted at 3:15 PM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-04 16:15:33-04

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Advocates of Oklahoma Highway Patrol employees claim further budget cuts to the state's Department of Public Safety could make highways more dangerous.

Oklahoma State Troopers Association President Keith Barenberg said Wednesday in a statement that cuts to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol budget since 2010 have led to 37 fewer state troopers patrolling the roadways, leaving fewer than 800 troopers to serve 77 counties as the state population has grown.

Leaders in the Legislature have argued all state agencies would likely have to share the burden imposed by a projected $1.3 billion shortfall in the 2017 fiscal year.

Barenberg says more than a quarter of troopers are eligible for retirement. He says the agency has hired only 144 new troopers since 2010 even as 181 left through attrition.