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GSP asks county to help fund upgrades

Local Georgia State Patrol officers are looking to upgrade radars, lasers and other technology, according to information released during the Troup County Board of Commissioners work session on Thursday and approved on Tuesday.

GSP Sgt. Maurice Raines requested $41,000 from the county for technology upgrades on Thursday during a work session. Raines said new technology is needed is to equip new GSP officers, and the newer technology will improve efficiency. The commission approved the request unanimously, with the funding to come from the contingency fund. The local GSP post covers Troup and Harris counties, and Raines said GSP has requested similar funding from the Harris County Board of Commissioners, which will be reviewed at its Sept. 4 meeting.

“With three new people coming, they have to have technology to work, and it is a partnership between the state patrol and the counties,” Raines said. “When you have technology upgrades, we ask the county to help because our revenue that is generated by our office doesn’t benefit the state patrol at all. It benefits the community. I’m not saying that I need you to buy technology for us to do our job. I’m saying that my folks have got technology, and I want it upgraded. As a leader, you know if you don’t take care of your folks, you can’t expect them to perform. If you don’t give them the tools to do their job, then you can’t expect true efficiency in doing that job.”

According to Raines, this will be the first time in nearly a decade that the GSP office that serves Troup County will be fully staffed, due to lingering staffing issues from the Great Recession.

“I took over in 2009, and everyone knows in 2009 we had the economy crash,” Raines said. “Our agency actually put a freeze on hiring, which was a big mistake, and we know that, with trended retirements that averaged five a month. That means 60 personnel [a year] that are no longer with the agency and not replacing them. The next thing you know, it is a domino effect, and you can’t catch up with retirements. We went through that trend for a little over four and a half years.”

According to Raines, GSP has also struggled to find qualified candidates and, prior to action by Gov. Nathan Deal, uncompetitive pay made it difficult to attract applicants. 

“I have not asked this county for upgraded technology since I’ve been here and knowing that I’ve got three new Troopers coming,” Raines said.

“The technology that my folks have can be updated and needs to be updated. Better technology brings better performance and more efficiency. Not only efficiency, better results.”

Raines also provided a summary of GSP officer activity in 2018, including a comparison to activity in Harris County. According to those reports, GSP responded to 650 traffic accidents, made 391 arrests and reported 73 incidents of driving under the influence in January through July 2018 in Troup County.

Raines said there are already more incidents of traffic fatalities and driving under the influence this year in Troup County compared to last year. However, he said there are fewer crashes so far in 2018 year than at this point in 2017.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners will meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 30 at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Avenue.