Cuts to ALEA budget mean cuts to patrol on the water

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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - With summer right around the corner, more boaters are going to be heading out to the state's waterways. With budget cuts looming for all state agencies, your safety out on the water could be compromised.

For the state's lead law enforcement agency, a 30 percent cut to the general fund means fewer eyes on the roads and also on the waterways.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency oversees multiple facets of public safety.  Cutting that already tight budget could make a drastic difference.

"It's going to mean less of an enforcement presence and it's going to directly affect public safety," explained Senior Trooper Johnathan Appling.

99 Troopers are slated to be cut with the current budget proposal. 11 of those are in the Shoals alone. The marine patrol faces similar setbacks.

"It's very hard for them to cover all the waterways, especially in north Alabama that has so much water. It's very hard for them to cover that now," Appling said. "Which means boating safety is going to be at risk. It's going to make things that much worse"

With word of these budget cuts getting around, so are rumors about who will patrol the waterways if the cuts actually happen. Will enforcement be handed over to conservation officers or remain in the hands of the even more limited marine patrol?

"They have their own separate functions," added Appling. "Game wardens are not going to be assuming marine patrol duties. Marine patrol will still be there. They will just have to be doing more with less."

In addition to cutting patrol down on roads and waterways, the cuts would mean 13 trooper posts would close their doors, as would most of the state's driver license offices.


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