Currently, the Pennsylvania State Police is 12 percent below full complement, but the increased funds from the new budget might close that gap.
The 2013-14 budget includes an additional $15 million for state police - bringing the department’s total budget to $210 million.
Public Information Officer Adam Reed said this money will help the department fill some vacancies.
“For us, that means that we can avoid some very critical decision that may have been looming without proper funding like hiring and closing additional stations” Reed said.
Currently there are 4,100 troopers, which is 540 less than full complement, but the state police hope to add 300 cadets this year.
Reed said they want to get as close to full complement as possible.
“Right now we have two classes currently in our academy in Hershey but we’d like to add some more classes obviously to help fill the ranks here, but the classes are six months long and they receive some great training before hitting the road to go out on patrol,” Reed said.
But more than 1,200 state troopers became eligible to retire at the end of June, and between 150 and 200 are expected to leave.
According to the State Police, Pennsylvania municipalities have eliminated 50 departments within the last 5 years because of budget constraints — 10 last year alone.
Reed said state troopers are responsible for areas that do not have their own police departments.
“There are some townships, boroughs, municipalities that just can’t support their own police departments so they turn to us for coverage and we provide full-service police response to the citizens of those townships 24/7.”
The 4,100 state troopers are responsible for 80 percent of the state’s land mass.
They are also responsible for the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge, casino gaming and liquor control enforcement.
Currently, the state police are covering the municipalities for free, but Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) proposed legislation earlier in the year that would take the funds given to municipalities for road projects and maintenance and put it towards state police coverage.