Kansas Highway Patrol seeks new fund for recruitment and retention

TOPEKA (KSNT) – For months KSNT News has been telling you about a statewide shortage of Highway Patrol Troopers.

Thursday, Colonel Mark Bruce presented a proposal to lawmakers he hopes would help solve for that shortage, but you could end up paying for the change.

“The best case scenario would be that the state was in the position to provide State General Fund Dollars for us. We recognize that’s not the case, and that’s a problem for us,” said Bruce.

Which is why the Highway Patrol is asking lawmakers to create a special fund for training and retention of troopers.

That could mean every time you go to the DMV to register a vehicle and get a new sticker for your license plate, you’ll be paying more, because the proposal would add a two dollar fee for every registered vehicle.

The change would bring in an estimated $5 million for the KHP allowing it to add 75 troopers and maintain salary increases beyond 2018.

“I pay a little bit too much is what I think. I think they need to fix these streets. There’s too many pot holes,” said driver Drake Nave.

The Kansas Farm Bureau also opposes the move, saying farmers often have to register multiple vehicles and would feel it in their pocketbooks.

Bruce says they considered increasing fines as an alternative but, “The problem with fines is that, that gives the appearance that we would increase enforcement activity to support our operations and I didn’t like the appearance of that.”

He says registration fees tie specifically to their mission.

“it’s going to provide more troopers on the road, lessen response times, and be able to allow these local agencies in the rural part of the state that don’t have enough officers to do stuff,” said Lt. Adam Winters of the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Lawmakers are concerned money from this fund could get swept, like so many others, to fill holes in the State General Fund.

It’s a risk they’ll have to weigh.

A separate bill aims to increase registration fees an additional two dollars for the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.

Neither has received legislative approval yet.

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