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'> cn|2 Pure Politics  - State police commissioner says budget stretched already, further cuts could be 'devastating'

State police commissioner says budget stretched already, further cuts could be 'devastating'

02/11/2014 01:40 PM

Slated for another 2.5 percent in cuts, the Kentucky State Police could survive with that funding amount but would likely see a drop in the already historically low rolls of troopers, the Kentucky State Police commissioner told lawmakers Tuesday.

The agency is bracing for between 45 and 60 troopers to retire in August. Already, the ranks of sworn troopers has fallen to 872. That’s about 125 fewer than what the agency needs to cover all corner of the state and handle other duties, such as running cadet training and forensic labs.

Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer told the House budget panel on justice that with 91 percent of his budget going to personnel and fuel, he has little flexibility to make cuts without affecting public safety. And his agency, like others, is being squeezed from all sides — skyrocketing retirement costs, rising fuel costs, increased maintenance bills from an aging fleet of cars and falling federal grant income.

“It’s a perfect storm,” Brewer told the panel of six lawmakers. “Services are starting to suffer.”

Brewer and J. Michael Brown, secretary of the state justice cabinet, told the committee that the agency will handle whatever funding level the General Assembly and governor approve, but that the state police are nearing a tipping point.

Troopers do get some overtime paid by the federal government when they take on certain assignments the federal government requires or encourages, such as speed enforcement and the “Night Hawk” program aimed at cracking down on impaired driving. But Brewer said in many of the 16 state police posts around the state there aren’t enough troopers to work the overtime.

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