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DPS budget woes strike again, cuts limit miles for troopers

Oklahoma State troopers’ jobs just got a lot more difficult thanks to another round of budget cuts for the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. (KTUL)

Oklahoma State troopers’ jobs just got a lot more difficult thanks to another round of budget cuts for the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.

The newest cash slash is aimed at reducing fuel costs, but it’s also going to hurt the way highway patrol keeps us safe.

According to Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the budget is in crisis. This latest round of cuts will keep troopers from driving more than 100 miles per day. Making it difficult to patrol the more than 112,000 miles of Sooner highway.

It’s something many of us take for granted. Men and women who keep our roads and drivers safe. But they do have to travel a couple of hundred miles a day to do it.

“Our budget shortfall is real,” says Trooper Dwight Durant with OHP. “We don’t like this. We don’t want to sit. We want to go to work.”

Many will have to sit because of the new 100 mile-per-day limit. And those 100 will click off the odometer in a hurry. Even if a trooper just stays in Tulsa County.

“From Skiatook Lake to Catoosa to Leonard,” Durant says. “If you’ve two or three troopers out there going where the calls take you, you’re going to get to that 100-mile limit soon. You’re going to have troopers that are sitting stationary on the side of the road when they’re time would probably be better served out working problem areas in a county somewhere.”

School zones, interstates, and county roads are all facing neglect.

“We’re still coming out here every day and doing our job,” Durant says. “We’re still protecting the citizens of Oklahoma and being the best that we can be. But you need to be aware that it’s getting critical.”

If the need arises, 100 miles is just a guideline.

“The public safety comes first,” Durant ensures. “We’re not going to say ‘No, we’re not going to go to this call because we don’t want to go over 100 miles we don’t want to get in trouble.’ There’s going to be a leeway there. But we’re going to watch it.”

And if they didn’t, Durant says they’d watch every d-p-s employee forced into furlough for nearly a month.

The latest cuts will also impact the aircraft DPS has at its disposal. Trooper Durant says they won’t be flying unless there’s a special circumstance that requires eyes in the sky.

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