The Idaho State Police would be able to replace 10 patrol cars and four SUV's, plus a $1 million radio system conversion needed for communication with 14 Idaho counties, under a budget set this morning in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. It'd also be able to add two forensic scientists to comply with a state law requiring DNA testing of all those convicted of felonies, and cover a $340,000 jump in fuel costs. But it wouldn't be able to increase its ranks of patrol officers. Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, House Appropriations vice-chair, said, “They don't even have cars for the people they have.”
Bolz proposed a budget that shows an 18.3 percent increase in state general funds over this year, but just a 2.8 percent increase overall; Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, offered a substitute motion to let ISP replace 10, rather than seven, patrol cars by tapping a dedicated fund, and it passed 10-9. State police patrol cars aren't being replaced until they have as many as 120,000 miles on them, Brackett said.
Col. Jerry Russell, ISP director, said in his budget pitch this year that he can only categorize ISP's service level now as “satisfactory,” in the wake of deep budget cuts. “ISP is not doing more with less,” Russell told JFAC. He said both the “modest” 24-hour patrol coverage and the number of miles patrolled have been reduced.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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