FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – The head of the Kentucky State Police told a legislative committee the agency is in dire need of new cars, rifles, radios and other equipment, as well as more troopers.
KSP Commissioner Richard W. Sanders, appearing Thursday before the Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and the Judiciary, said the state's budget crunch is taking its toll.
“We had a trooper responding a few months ago to a fellow trooper who had been stabbed,” Sanders said. “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.”
Sanders told lawmakers that, because of budget his cuts, his agency orders about 60 fewer cruisers each year than it did a decade ago.
"The problem with that is we keep increasing the average mileage of our cruisers,” he said.
When the latest cadet class graduated, the 41 new troopers were assigned cars that had an average of 140,000 miles on them. "Some received cruisers with 180,000 miles,” Sanders said.
He said KSP needs to purchase about 180 new cars a year to catch up.
Sanders also told lawmakers his agency needs to replace their Army surplus, Vietnam-era M-16 rifles.
“About a month ago, we got a notice from the Department of Defense that they were recalling all our rifles,” he said. “We just mustered enough money to buy 200 rifles. We’re still in need of 800 rifles.”
Communications is another big problem, according to Sanders.
“Our radio system is failing, and we’re being told by Motorola that parts for them are no longer in existence," he said. "This radio system is going to die within the next couple of years.”
Sanders also said they need to upgrade their state laboratory in Frankfort. “Our equipment is getting older, we need to refurbish some of it, and that’s going to take money.” He told lawmakers they process evidence not only for their own cases, but for local police and sheriff’s departments across the state, who don’t pay them for their work.
He testified that while troopers received a generous pay raise for troopers, they have turned into a training ground for lab personnel and dispatchers.
“When I was Police Chief in Jeffersontown, it was humorous that I could steal employees from the Kentucky State Police because we paid so much more. Now that I’m Commissioner of the State Police, it’s not nearly as funny.”
Sanders summed up his appearance by saying, “I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but the old adage ‘we’re the State Police and we can do more with less.’ No, we’re doing less with less, and it’s important to point that out.”
Lawmakers will approve a budget for the next two fiscal years, when they convene Jan. 2.