OHP Troopers Limited To 100-Mile-Per-Day Patrols
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Highway Patrol announces a new cutback on travel - for troopers patrolling the state's highways.
It's a reaction to the continuing state budget crisis and it's a remarkable cut to a basic function of the patrol.
Starting Thursday, troopers face a 100-miles-driving-limit each day.
Drivers on Oklahoma Highways will get less attention from state troopers because the government doesn't have enough gas money.
"That 100 miles, that's not very much when patrolling the highways is your job," said OHP Trooper Dwight Durant.
That leaves the department with new restrictions on patrolling on the ground and in the air.
"Our aircraft won't be up doing patrol helping us stop speeders on the highway in the places we're all used to seeing them," Durant said.
The new budget cuts limit highway patrol troopers to 100 miles each day and patrol aircraft will be practically grounded with flying hours reduced to only urgent needs.
That's on top of previous cuts that eliminated a new trooper academy and stopped the modernization of their radio system.
The department isn't replacing driver's license examiners and bought out 32 employees to cut payroll.
For troopers working out of Tulsa - with a call to the far end of Rogers County, at Chelsea - the roundtrip would be almost 100 miles.
Durant said it's going to eliminate most routine patrols.
"We're going to sit, most likely and if there's a crash we'll go to it and sit, wait for the next one," Durant said. "And that's not what we want to do. We want to get out there, enforce the laws on the highway, protect the motoring public and that's going to be difficult."