Following Gov. Rick Scott’s signature on the record-breaking $77 billion Florida budget on Monday, Sen. Jack Latvala announced Pinellas County would be adding seven more highway patrol officers this year.
The Clearwater Republican said the extra staff comes from approved funding for the Florida Department of Highway Safety, which includes 28 additional state troopers hired for the fiscal year starting July 1.
Additional troopers will bring welcome relief to the county, which had been suffering from a shortage of law enforcement officers. Recently, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office had to fill in staffing gaps, by assigning deputies to events occurring along state roads, many of which were outside of the county’s jurisdiction.
“Thanks to improving economic conditions and our commitment to a budget that prioritizes public safety, we were able to provide enough money in the budget for these much-needed highway patrol officers who will help keep our roads and residents safe,” Latvala said in a prepared statement.
More troopers will improve response times in the cases of roadside incidents.
“Being a highway patrol officer is a very dangerous job,” he added, “and we need to provide a strong law enforcement presence in the areas where officers are needed most.”