By Tommy Reynolds
As I noted in a previous Report to the People, it appears that the ranks of our Mississippi Highway Patrol are dangerously thin. So thin, in fact, that we discovered a few months ago that Yalobusha County did not even have a trooper assigned within the county limits.
For those of us who live in the rural and small town areas and are often forced to travel long miles to school, work or church, the idea that we may not be able to find help on the highway is a sobering thought.
Once my colleagues and I brought the Yalobusha issue to the attention of Depart-ment of Public Safety Com-missioner Albert Santa Cruz, I was assured by letter that hereafter troopers will be in our county and patrolling everyday and that critical roads in our county will be particularly emphasized in the patrolling. While we appreciate the swift attention to our concerns, many of my efforts during the 2014 Legislative session will be focused on making sure this void doesn’t happen to any Mississippi county again.
Toward that end, I filed legislation earlier this month to fund and authorize a Trooper School to be underway in the upcoming fiscal year. It will have been three years since the last school, if this measure becomes law. I will strongly promote this bill, and I encourage our citizens of District 33 to do the same.
Attrition, promotions and reassignments have contributed to the reduced presence of troopers on our highways. It is only common sense that we should conduct these training schools often enough to prevent the situation we were facing in Yalobusha County.
We all appreciate our local law enforcement officers who conscientiously strive to make sure our communities are safe. Their effectiveness is only enhanced by the presence of their colleagues in gray.
There has been a lot of discussion in Jackson that the 2014 Legislative Session will be the “Public Safety” session. If this is a serious effort, then our proposed Trooper School should be accepted, particularly if we point out that counties are risking significant periods of time with no trooper coverage without a training school.
Trooper Schools are intensive, 23-week training programs that are held at the Mississipppi Law Enforce-ment Officers Training Academy in Pearl. Only about 100 of over 500 applicants are typically admitted to the class. Of that number of students, fewer than 50 will graduate as troopers. The Academy curriculum covers boxing, physical training, ground fighting, advanced officer survival, academics, EVOC, first aid and law.
With the new, highly trained state troopers on our highways, all of us will be able to rest a little easier. Let’s hope by this time next year, we’ll be welcoming the new graduates into our communities and onto our highways.
We should all do our best to tell our state troopers thank you for the risks they take as they work to protect us during some of the most perilous times we will ever experience. They serve above and beyond in the face of both natural and man-made disasters and even during their routine efforts to keep our highways free of dangerous drivers. Theirs is a solitary work, and we should be grateful.
Please feel free to contact me at my residence at 1720 N. Main St., Water Valley, MS 38965, by phone at (662) 473-2571, by email at email@example.com or at my office at P.O. Drawer 280, Charleston, MS 38921 and by phone at (662) 647-3203. I look forward to hearing from you on any issue that you may have.