Alabama State Troopers absent during Christmas, New Year’s holidays

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 6, 2003

The Demopolis director of public safety had some concerns going into the holiday season. His concerns, it turns out, had merit.

For years, the state of Alabama has issued grant money to increase the State Trooper force on state roads during the holiday season. And every year, the Alabama Department of Public Safety issues a statement warning drivers that interstates and highways will have increased patrols during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Manuel speculates that State Troopers did not patrol the roads this year because of financial problems.

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Trooper Donald Frasier, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Public Safety, couldn’t comment specifically on whether or not grant money had been held up this year. But he did say there were fewer State Troopers on the road this year.

According to Frasier, programs like the "Click it or Ticket" campaign were not in effect this year to the extent they have been in the past.

That didn’t stop the Alabama Department of Public Safety from offering stern warnings to motorists across the state.

Doris Teague, another spokesperson for ADPS, said there is a definite funding problem for public safety, but most of that comes on the federal level.

According to Teague, Alabama has not received grant money this year, though "we are still working to get it," she said.

During the holidays, the state safety department predicted that four people would die from traffic accidents. A state count on Thursday indicated six people died from traffic-related accidents on Alabama roads.

Along with what may be a lack of funding, Frasier said Alabama State Troopers still suffer from a lack of man-power.

Manuel said he understands how the State Troopers feel.

Over the holidays, Manuel said there were no check points in this area for DUIs.

A sign?

In what may be a prequel to things to come, Alabama’s financial problems could extend far beyond roadways.

Riley has already made several mentions about the financial crisis facing Alabama, and has even indicated that state legislators must have an open mind when it comes to funding state programs.

On Dec. 21, Riley announced that Drayton Nabers, a former insurance CEO, would become the state’s new finance director on Jan. 20, and Nabers said the state does face financial problems.

According to Nabers, one of the first priorities for the state will be to rework the state’s tax system. However, neither he nor Riley have indicated how the state’s tax code may be reformed.