Highway patrol officer ranks have shrunk in a dozen states in the past 13 years and failed to keep pace with population gains in others, leaving highways unpatrolled during late-night and early-morning hours, reports USA Today. The shortages, in a period of state budget woes, have forced places like Oregon to cut down on 24-hour patrols. Other states, such as Michigan, have limited how many miles a trooper can drive per day.
“Every governor wants to tell everybody in the world, ‘I’m cutting the size of state government,’ ” says Maine State Police Sgt. Mike Edes, chairman of the National Troopers Coalition, which represents 45,000 state troopers. “What’s hurt us and what’s hurt a lot of state patrols is this rural sprawl. People are moving to the country most of those places in the country don’t have their own police departments.” To get federal highway funds, states must assign some troopers duties such as truck safety and weigh stations, says Sheldon Greenberg of the Division of Public Safety Leadership at Johns Hopkins University. “They’re not having troopers to do basic patrol work.”