Government

Governor signs budget bill with funds for 10 more Iowa state troopers

(FILE) Iowa Governor Kim signed off on funding which would provide for 10 more Iowa state troopers
(FILE) Iowa Governor Kim signed off on funding which would provide for 10 more Iowa state troopers

CEDAR RAPIDS — Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed off on funding for an additional 10 Iowa State Patrol troopers, but they won’t be on Iowa roads anytime soon.

The Legislature approved a $1.7 million line item in the justice systems budget, Senate File 615, to hire and equip 10 troopers to rebuild the patrol. The statewide agency has seen its numbers fall due to a combination of a tight budget and retirements.

The patrol has 368 sworn troopers including 291 “road troopers,” which is nearly 10 percent less than the 404 sworn troopers the agency was authorized to employ, said Sgt. Nathan Ludwig, patrol spokesman. The patrol had a hiring wave from the 1980s to the mid-1990s, and now those veteran troopers are beginning to retire.

SF 615, which the governor signed Wednesday, appropriates nearly $584 million from the state general fund for 5,425 full-time equivalent positions in the departments of Justice, Corrections, Inspections and Appeals, Public Defense, Human Rights, Public Safety, and Homeland Security and Emergency Management, as well as the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, Board of Parole and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

That’s an increase of $13 million and 32.5 positions. An increase of $3.8 million and 25 positions in Public Safety includes $350,000 and five positions in the Division of Criminal Investigation, $200,000 to Narcotics Enforcement and $1.6 million for departmentwide expenses.

To address the shrinking number of troopers, the patrol has graduated two classes from its academy — one in November and another in April — resulting in 38 new troopers to offset some of those retirements, Ludwig said.

He said the patrol anticipates hiring additional sworn personnel in the coming year, “but it is impossible to know how many given the number of presently unknown variables.”

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The hiring process can take up to six months. The patrol hopes to begin its 18- to 20-week basic academy later this year, Ludwig said. The recruits will graduate with Trooper II status and be assigned to the patrol’s 13 districts.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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