No doubt, Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget will undergo a major metamorphosis in the House and Senate over the next three months. Oftentimes, the makeover at the hands of lawmakers brings such radical change that the final version hardly resembles the original.
There will be much political jousting over which government programs and initiatives and agencies should be funded or defunded and at what levels. In the heated rhetoric that has already begun, lawmakers should not lose sight of the overwhelming need of the Kentucky State Police.
Bevin proposed an appropriation to replace what he referred to as “dangerous and worn out state police cruisers.”
If there’s an agency within our state government that Kentuckians can rightly take pride in, it is our state police. They truly are the best of the best. And they deserve the best equipment we can provide them. That includes not only safe, reliable cruisers but also updated weapons to replace Army surplus Vietnam-era M-16 rifles, and new, reliable communications equipment.
State police Commissioner Richard W. Sanders has been very candid about the financial crunch his agency is facing and how that crunch is causing troopers charged with keeping us safe to drive around in unsafe police cruisers.
Read this eye-opening incident described by Sanders last October in a presentation to lawmakers:
“We had a trooper responding a few months ago to a fellow trooper who had been stabbed. On the way to that stabbing, the transmission went out. The car had nearly 200,000 miles. He ended up getting out of his car and running toward the scene. Fortunately, he was picked up by another trooper who was en route.”
When the last cadet class graduated, 41 new troopers were assigned cars that had an average of 140,000 miles on them. Some had as many as 180,000 miles.
We must do better for our state police troopers. Their safety depends on it, and so does ours.