The Georgia State Patrol is about 200 troopers short of what it needs, so vast stretches of highways go unpatrolled from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., USA Today reports. Several other states are dealing with shortages of state troopers. It’s part of a national shortage of police at all levels of government, says Michael White, associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former deputy sheriff in Pennsylvania. It’s made worse in some states by increasing numbers of retirements, salaries that can’t compete with those of city or county police departments and budget crunches.
North Carolina posted unmanned patrol cars along some highways over the Memorial Day weekend. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm limited the number of miles troopers could drive each day in an effort to save about $2 million. In Oklahoma, where budget shortages led officials to cancel trooper academies for several years, the Highway Patrol advertises on billboards for state police recruits. Another contributor to personnel shortages is the war in Iraq. Troopers have been one of the most important law enforcement components in rural areas – keeping speeders in check, responding to crashes, and supplementing county sheriff’s offices.