State troopers need support
SUMMIT COUNTY – It’s hard for the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) to keep the highways safe when the phone won’t stop ringing.
With only 10 troopers to patrol the hundreds of miles of highway in Summit, Park and Clear Creek counties, the
Silverthorne-based CSP Troop 6B stays quite busy. During the recent blizzard and interstate closure, the phone never stopped ringing.
In recent history, the state agency has struggled with manpower and resource issues. And, as state legislators deal with further revenue shortfalls and budget cuts, CSP brass fears troops might incur the mandatory furloughs as other state departments have.
Capt. Ron Prater has an idea, though. The head of the local CSP troop is looking for qualified volunteers to help troopers maintain the level of service citizens expect. Prater said he hopes to attract people young and old to help the state patrol with tasks from safety demonstrations to clerical work.
“This is something I’m trying, basically, to act as a force multiplier to keep the troopers out on the highways and out of the office,” Prater said Friday. “We want the troopers out there looking for terrorists and contraband and making the highway safer for motorists – not answering the phone.”
Prater said, contrary to what people might imagine, reports and paperwork take up the bulk of troopers’ time. They also answer many questions over the phone. These tasks conspire to keep them in the office.
Commanders put the question of how to make up for manpower shortages to troop captains. He was inspired to start a volunteer program by the Florida Highway Patrol. Prater said the Sunshine State patrol enlists 850 volunteers, some of whom even perform “sworn” duties such as patrolling the highways.
Becoming a state patrol volunteer has a few requirements. There is an application process, including a background check and a polygraph test, Prater said, because of the sensitive nature of law enforcement work and secure database information in the office. He hopes to attract people with former law enforcement experience, or with helpful life or career experiences. Prater said he would also consider interested students.
“It doesn’t have to be a big commitment, though – a day a week, a couple hours,” Prater said. “This could be a great opportunity for students or seniors, and it’s a good opportunity for citizens to work closely with their highway officers. I imagine there’s people out there who can do some of these jobs better than we can.”
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