BATON ROUGE, LA — The number of Louisiana State Troopers on the road has been dwindling since 2009; they're now down over 200 troopers thanks to retirement. But House representatives are trying to fix that by funding the agency with enough to train 50 new troopers. In large rural parishes these new troopers are critical when it comes to fighting major crime.
Just a few years ago, Clinton resident Ben Dart was a victim of burglary.
"The state police helped me in tracking down some stolen items that was stolen out of the town of Clinton and it was found in Mississippi," Dart shared.
He got back his stolen property, but he said that wouldn't have been possible without the help of state troopers.
"Every little bit helps and we welcome the state police and we enjoy seeing them in the area," Dart explained.
Smaller police departments, like Clinton, rely on state police to help them in big cases. But having fewer troopers on the road every year thanks to budget cuts is making protecting people a little harder.
"If you call and you need assistance from them (LSP), they're coming but it's going to take them a while because they're stretched so thin," shared Captain Ned Davis, Assistant Police Chief with the Clinton Police Department.
Davis explained that the Clinton Police Department is capable of protecting and patrolling everyday, but when something major happens, they need to call on state police.
"We don't have the resources that the state police have so we call on them to dig a little deeper than we can," Davis said.
But all of that could soon be changing, thanks to state lawmakers. House Representatives found a way to allocate $5 million to the State Police, which would be just enough for the department’s first new cadet class in five years.
"It's been pretty clear. We've been encouraged by the efforts of people on the House side, we've spoken with people on the senate side and they want to see us try and put a new class together," shared David Young, with the Louisiana Troopers Association.
A new class of 50 to put a dent in the 200 troopers state police have lost to retirement over the last five years. It’s welcome news to Clinton police chief Fred Dunn.
"It's about time,” remarked Dunn, “we need more of them out there. The more the merrier!"
The $5 million in funding still has to make it through the Senate Budget negotiations before it can be handed over to the agency.