Troopers have continued concerns over possible budget cuts and safety

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - In less than a month the new budget year begins in Alabama, and lawmakers must try to resolve a general fund shortfall next week during the special session.

With departmental budgets on the chopping block, state employees are concerned they won't be able to provide the services the public expects.

It’s a sight you don’t see very often anymore -- a State Trooper monitoring traffic in the middle of a busy highway. Troopers say they don’t have time to be proactive when one person is covering two counties in northwest Alabama.

And much to the dismay of crash victims, Senior Trooper Greg Baker said response times suffer as well.

“I tell them I’m doing the best I can with our budget cuts and everything,” said Baker. “You know, we don’t have as many troopers on the road and we can only go so far.”

Trooper Baker said he’s never seen staffing this bad during his eight years on patrol.  He’s one of three troopers assigned to Lawrence and Franklin counties, and said he has several concerns.

“First and foremost, safety. Our backup is possibly an hour away -- sometimes even further,” explained Baker.

Baker said the shortage is taking its toll at home as well.  With fewer troopers, he is on-call 24/7 to respond to crash scenes and other calls for help.

“We don’t have enough people on the road. We have to drive so many miles a day, we’re on call more, and we’re tired,” Baker stated. “We need some help.”

Trooper Baker said he would like to see three more troopers assigned to his area to not only help with the public’s safety, but his safety as well.

If budget cuts do hit State Troopers, it’s been said there could be as many as 99 fewer troopers on the highways in Alabama.

The first proposed state budget which failed to pass earlier this year cut the State Trooper budget by $16 million.

Concerned about the cuts? Contact your legislators.

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