As reported by nj.com, despite a new round of public safety budget cuts, it could be a good year for the State Police. There will be new troopers, new cars and new civilian support staff in the upcoming budget year, Attorney General Paula Dow said.
Dow told the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee that the State Police is a “core funding priority” for Governor Chris Christie. “The class is expected to begin this August and provide us with approximately 100 new state troopers by graduation early next year,” she said. The class is expected to cost $3 million.
The State Police’s ranks are being depleted by a spike in retirements. Even with the new class, the total number of troopers is projected to drop from 2,819 this summer to 2,799 in June of next year. Another 50 civilians will be hired to handle administrative tasks, allowing higher-paid troopers to focus on police work, Dow said.
The State is also buying 325 new vehicles. Marked cars cost $51,000 while unmarked cars go for $30,000, according to Lee Moore, spokesman for the attorney general. About 850 State Police cars, 37 percent of the total fleet, have reached the 125,000 mile threshold and require replacement. Between the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year, 725 of those cars will be replaced.
Aging vehicles have been a concern for the Christie administration. The governor’s transition team reported that “certain elements of the State Police vehicle fleet have deteriorated to the point where safety is an issue.”
The Department of Law and Public Safety, which oversees the State Police, is facing a $5 million budget cut. However, other areas of the organization will likely see new staff members. The state’s Division of Law, which has lost 100 lawyers because of a six-year hiring freeze, is expected to hire another 33 attorneys. The Office of Forensic Sciences, which operates the state crime lab, is slated to take on 29 new people, including scientists and evidence handlers.