The Department of Public Safety announced Thursday it will hold an Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy early next year thanks to funding from the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA).
The announcement was made at the state Capitol during a news conference, and announced by State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) Thursday.
Bennett stated, “After much negotiations we will have a Trooper Academy and the 100 Mile restriction will go away, and the driver’s license testing offices will stay open. Thank you to OTA for stepping up to the plate and working with the Legislature and OHP to ensure we have an Academy. We appreciate our Troopers, and all our Boys in Blue!”
In announcing the funding, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher) said at a press conference, “I’d like to thank the Turnpike Authority and Director Tim Gatz for making this happen. I also appreciate House leadership and Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson for helping to facilitate this arrangement.
“One of the top priorities of state government is protecting our citizens,” said Sanders. “The Oklahoma Highway Patrol was unable to fund an academy this year to hire new troopers. Currently, 790 troopers protect more than 112,000 miles of Oklahoma roads. Having new troopers on our roads will help keep Oklahomans safe.”
Bennett, the chair of the House Public Safety Committee, echoed the thanks to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority for the $5 million that will fund up to 30 recruits for the next trooper academy. The money will fund the academy, future training, equipment, salary and benefits for the troopers for a year.
“I want to thank the Turnpike Authority for working with us when we are in dire need of a trooper academy to help keep our highways and turnpikes safe."
Bennett recalled a story from Pres. Ronald Reagan in which he asked people to imagine a thin blue line separating people and all of the things they love and hold dear from all of the things that threaten harm.
“These boys in brown are part of that thin blue line that keeps all the bad things from getting to all of the good things we enjoy in life,” said Bennett.
OHP officials said earlier that the crisis in state funding could cancel the academy, and predicted cutbacks would limit OHP services. OHP troopers were also limited to 100 miles in their patrols.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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