Lawmakers Concerned by State Police Manpower Issues

Manpower issues are creeping up on the Pennsylvania State Police and concerns are spreading under the state capitol dome.  “It’s not that we might be, Pennsylvania is on the verge of a public safety crisis,” Pennsylvania State Troopers Association President Joe Kovel told a panel of lawmakers this week. 

The Senate Law & Justice and House Judiciary Committees convened a joint hearing on the decreasing number of State Police troopers. 

With some 1,000 troopers becoming eligible to retire, sparse cadet classes haven’t kept pace in recent years.  State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan estimates they’ll be 465-troopers below compliment by June 2013. 

In the meantime, Commissioner Noonan’s top priority is keeping troopers on the road.  “In order to get troopers on the road, we would have to reduce our administrative manpower needs,” Commissioner Noonan told the joint committee, “and the one way to do that is to close stations.” 

Noonan says station consolidation isn’t ideal, but it may be necessary depending on how the retirement situation unfolds. 

Sen. John Pippy (R-Allegheny), who chairs the Law & Justice Committee, plans to follow up with Noonan and Governor Tom Corbett.  “I truly see, if nothing changes, we will be in that scenario where we’re going to be down 800 or 900 women.  Not too far away,” he says. 

The budget plan Governor Corbett rolled out in February allocates nearly $8-million dollars for a new class of 115-cadets this year.  The State Police Academy can handle up to 350 cadets in a year, and Joe  Kovel tells lawmakers that’s what they need.