The head of the Iowa State Patrol warned legislators Tuesday that troopers are driving cars with too many miles on them…and said that could pose a danger to the public. Colonel Robert Garrison says mileage has increased as budget cuts in recent years reduced the number of troopers, since the remaining staff had to cover more ground. Garrison says some nights three troopers are covering six counties, and he says that spreads his force too thin. Colonel Garrison says high mileage vehicles make him nervous. “These troopers are running these cars 120 miles an hour sometimes and if a tire rod end breaks going that fast, the potential of injury to the officer or death or to somebody on the other side of the median, that would be my biggest concern.” Garrison says 50 percent of troopers’ cars have over 100-thousand miles on them. He says if one breaks down while going 120-miles per hour, someone’s likely to get hurt. Garrison says there’s the potential the state could be held liable if there’s a wreck involving a state trooper driving a high-mileage car. “I don’t like getting those calls in the middle of the night,” Garrison says. Republican representative Scott Raecker of Urbandale agrees. “This is an issue that flies below the radar screen in the legislature and in the general public,” Raecker says. He warns there’ll be a huge public outcry if a state trooper is injured or killed because he or she is driving a high-mileage vehicle. “So let’s take care of it now,” Raecker says. He says while troopers are driving high mileage cars, 30-percent of the cars in the state’s regular vehicle fleet has fewer than ten thousand miles. Raecker says the state should either sell off part of its regular fleet and give the money to the patrol to buy new squad cars, or strip down patrol cars when they reach 60-thousand miles and place them in the regular fleet.
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