I know economic development and education are top priorities, and they should be, however public safety is an important part in the lives of our citizens. Gov. Phil Bryant, who supports more funding for public safety, knows first-hand the importance because he began his career as a deputy sheriff in the 1970's.
Training officers to perform their job in serving the public and providing them with the needed equipment to handle a situation when it arises is an investment in the safety of our communities. State highways run through counties in this state, and they serve the municipalities in each of these counties. This is a situation that both political parties need to be concerned about because people should be able to live and travel -- whether to work, school or wherever their intended destination -- in an environment that is safe. Appropriating funds is a complex subject because there are so many needs in this state, but public safety should be in the forefront. It was reported that Mississippi has about 500 troopers, and it is recommended there be 650; also the last trooper training school was back in 2011.
A shortage of troopers makes the response time to a call longer. Gov. Bryant knows this because he has stressed in his push for more funding that this is a matter of saving lives. As large as counties are by the square mile, there is a lot of highway that has to be covered. Anytime a call to a wreck or to an impaired driver could come in would have to be responded to in a timely fashion. With fewer troopers on the road, it is not good if there is only one officer covering two counties or when back up is needed. It would take close to an hour for the nearest officer to get to the location. As little as five minutes could be the difference in life and death.
At the news conference last week at the state Capitol, Gov. Bryant said, "As God is my witness, help is on the way."
More funding for the Department of Public Safety will be a great asset to the lives of citizens in this state for years to come.
Ken Strachan is a former mayor of North Carrollton and serves as Carroll County coroner.