Lawmakers Working to Provide Funds to Virginia State Police
76th District Delegate S. Chris Jones (center)
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) -
Lawmakers say Virginia State Police (VSP) are facing an urgent funding issue.
Waves of state budget cuts over the years have taken a toll on the police force. Now, state legislators are promising to find money right away for the agency, even amid a serious budget shortfall.
"The immediate problem for us, in my opinion is, that we are losing 12 or more troopers a month, and we have got to fix that problem and turn it around," said 76th District Delegate S. Chris Jones.
VSP has been experiencing a retention problem; Colonel Steve Flaherty said nine resignations hit his desk once a $1.5 billion budget shortfall was announced and pay raises came off the table.
"We are training these troopers, men and women, and they're on the force for a year or two and then they're gone. So it's an expensive proposition," said Jones, who is also chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Del. Jones says years without pay raises have made it hard to keep troopers, noting that four or five left within the last few weeks.
Despite financial pressures on the commonwealth, Jones says the General Assembly will make it a priority to give more money to the VSP.
Lawmakers say Virginia State Police provide critical public safety services, and these funding issues must be addressed.
"They're under-staffed, but they have people in the pipeline who are going through the academy. You just don't want them to be trained and then just go and take another job. So what we're trying to do is figure out a way to get some money in the pipeline right away so we don't lose folks, and then we have to replace them with other people who are perhaps younger and with less experience," said 57th District Delegate David Toscano.
Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) is set to announce more budget cuts in December. State lawmakers will take up these funding questions when they return to Richmond in January.
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