Public safety needs to again become a priority of the Iowa Legislature in 2013, Gazette guest columnist Darin Snedden writes in a column published Sunday.
“We have indeed achieved a record level of productivity and service from a declining number of troopers,” says Snedden, president of the Iowa State Troopers Association. ”Since 2000, the number of troopers patrolling Iowa’s roadways has fallen from 455 to 357. That’s almost 100 fewer troopers responding to emergency calls, serious accidents, natural emergencies and criminal and drug interdiction.
“Tempering these successes, however, are several points that concern every trooper,” Snedden continiues. “The time it takes to respond quickly to serious accidents or violent threats is increasing as our numbers decline and the distance they travel increases. The time it takes for troopers to respond to “interagency” requests, those that come from other law enforcement agencies on the county and local level, also is increasing.
“In 2011, many Iowa legislators recognized this emerging problem and identified a plan to begin to replace Trooper strength. The Iowa House supported a process of rebuilding the patrol to reach trooper strength levels in 2000. Unfortunately, that plan was not implemented, and the problem has grown more pressing.
“Department of Public Safety Commissioner Brian London and his staff have been working with the Iowa State Patrol to find the correct and appropriate staffing levels. His support, and the support of the governor and state legislators, is a vital piece of trooper morale and safety every day they don the uniform and drive into harm’s way.
“The Iowa State Patrol is rooted in its tradition of service to all Iowans,” Snedden concludes. “Since 1935, the commitment of every trooper who has worn the uniform has never wavered. By making public safety a top budget priority in the 2013 legislative session, the Iowa Legislature will mirror that tradition of service of protecting Iowan’s safety.”
Do you agree with Snedden’s points? Should Iowa add more officers to its Iowa State Troopers agency?