Governor wants more troopers in South Carolina

| Wednesday, January 12, 2005

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has allocated money in this year’s state budget to pay for 100 new state troopers.

Sanford’s executive budget calls for $4.5 million to be taken from the state’s general fund to pay for the new officers, according to the governor’s proposal.

An additional one-time allocation of $3.4 million would be spent on squad cars for the Highway Patrol.

Public Safety director James Schweitzer was pleased by the recent announcement.

Budget cuts have kept his agency from hiring new troopers the past two years. That, along with low pay, has cut his force to 788 troopers from 961 in 2000. South Carolina had more troopers on the road in 1986, Schweitzer told The State newspaper.

That reduction in force likely has had a role in making the state’s roads more dangerous because troopers act as a deterrent, he said. Drivers see the silver cars with the blue lights and immediately begin driving more safely.

If the Legislature approves the money, Schweitzer said he would quickly push a class of 50 recruits through the five-month training course.

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