We believe the Pennsylvania State Police must bite the budget bullet along with every other state agency.

Since taking office, the Corbett administration has asked all or nearly all state departments to do more with less. Included in those cutbacks has been funding for our public schools.

That’s no different than what has been happening in private sector businesses and industries and in our homes as we all have had to deal with the effects of an economy that continues to struggle nationwide.

However, we caution our legislators not to allow our state police force numbers to be reduced to a point that the safety of the public and the force itself is jeopardized. 

State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan in essence is saying the same thing, according to a report by PA Independent.

“I want more cadets; that’s what I’m hoping for,” Noonan told a pair of legislative committees during a hearing last week. “If the numbers go down, we’re going to have to make significant changes in how we do business.” 

That “business” lately has included stepping up services in municipalities that increasingly have opted out of providing law enforcement help to their citizens; instead, those communities now rely on the nearby state police barracks.

Obviously, this has put added strain on already-busy troopers.

Noonan told Senate and House committee members that he needs more cadets to replace retiring officers and to fill a 300-officer shortfall.

The expected large number of retirements this year could push the vacancy number to 500 officers.

What legislators and average citizens need to keep in mind is that troop-er positions can’t be adequately filled simply by signing on a large number of applicants.

New hires require lengthy academy instruction followed by extensive on-the-job training.

We urge our legislators and governor to keep all of this in mind as budget preparations continue for fiscal 2012-13.

We still believe our state police force is an excellent investment.

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