The president of the Iowa State Troopers Association says they’ll ask legislators to go back to using the vehicle use tax to fund patrol operations. Trooper Gerri McCurdy of Rockwell City says the patrol has 60 vacancies due to budget cutbacks. He says it’s the lowest the numbers have been since the 1960s and he says it’s a major concern to the patrol. McCurdy says the patrol has taken several cuts since its funding was shifted to the state general fund. He says they believe the vehicle use tax is a better way to fund the department. He says in the constitution the use fund is for the maintenance, construction and supervision of highways, and he says the patrol falls under the supervision part. McCurdy says there are equipment needs too, as the patrol has more than 200 cars with at least 100-thousand miles on them. He says they currently have just under 400 troopers, including supervisors, and would like to see that back up to the proper level. He says they’d like to see the legislators and the governor come up with a plan to add 20 to 25 troopers a year to get the patrol back up to full strength. McCurdy says there aren’t enough troopers to patrol the highways properly, and he says that has translated to excessive speeds on the roads. He says people are going 20, 30 and 40 miles over the speed limit on the interstates and other roads. He says there’s also an increase in no-passsing zone and stop sign violations. He says local officers rely on the state for backup, but he says they don’t have enough troopers to do it all. McCurdy says it has been tough on morale. He says the troopers “have picked themselves up by the bootstraps and tried to do more with less.” But he says it’s gotten harder to do more with less. McCurdy says many people only see troopers as the people who write tickets, but he says it’s a public safety issue the state needs to address.
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