WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — If you are hitting the road this holiday season, you may see fewer state troopers as the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) is down dozens of positions. It’s impacting everyone, including other law enforcement agencies.
The KHP needs around 500 troopers to be fully staffed, but they are down at least 75 right now. This leaves less time for state patrol to cover all duties, whether that be enforcement or assisting other agencies.
“We are over 400 right now. We definitely would love to be getting these numbers back up because that does leave several vacancies across the state,” said KHP South Central Public Information Officer Trooper Chad Crittenden.
Without the needed staff, troopers aren’t always able to work on enforcing traffic laws, especially if there are more crashes.
“The less of us that are being seen out on the roadway, the more traffic violations that are going to be happening out there,” said Trooper Chad.
The KHP isn’t just working for the state but also helps smaller agencies like the Sherman County Sheriff’s Office.
“I wish I had four more deputies that way, I could cover things better, but I just can’t afford that with the population we have,” said Sherman County Sheriff Burton Pianalto.
But if a state trooper is unable to respond in that area, it can cause delayed response times.
“Out here in the rural area, we have to rely on each other a lot of times. One trooper will be out, and if he needs back up, we are there, and if we need back up, they come and back us up,” said Sheriff Pianalto.
The July 1 pay increase of 30% for new hires has boosted applications, but troopers are still needed, mainly in metro areas such as Wichita, Topeka, Salina, and Kansas City.
The staffing issue has been going on for about four years.
Another issue is many troopers have retired, or others move to different jobs or fields.
The KHP is opening applications soon for its 24-week training course in March.
You can find out more about open positions with KHP by clicking here.