HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) — One day after delivering his first budget address, Governor Josh Shapiro visited the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Academy to tour the facility and meet with cadets.
Shapiro says his budget provides crucial investments for law enforcement at a time where public safety is a growing concern. Among his budget proposals for public safety include funding for four-new cadet classes and a new fund for the PSP, which he says will free up infrastructure dollars.
“It’s frankly foolish that we have forced the critically important aspect of infrastructure funding and the obviously critically important aspect of state police funding to compete with one another,” said Shapiro. “It’s gone on for too long, it ends on my watch,” he added.
Yesterday, Shapiro proposed the Public Safety and Protection Fund to provide steady support for PSP while reducing their reliance on the Motor License Fund (MLF), which is supposed to be used for road and bridge repairs.
Aside from the new fund and the 400 new cadets, Shapiro also proposed incentives to attract new police at both the municipal and state levels.
“I’ve proposed a $2,500 personal income tax credit for new police officers,” said Shapiro. “People have a right to be safe and feel safe in all Pennsylvania communities. Policing is a noble profession, and we want our best and our brightest from all different walks of life to go into policing,” he added.
Shapiro’s proposals come at a time when PSP cadet applications are at a 30-year low, and when nearly one-third of troopers are eligible for retirement.
“A third could go,” said David Kennedy, President of the State Troopers Association. “I took the test in 1994 with 10,000 people for about 300 jobs. Right now, our last testing cycle, we had 1,000 people sign up to take the test and only 700 showed up,” he added.
Kennedy says quality applicants are becoming harder and harder to find.
“We need help. We need the narrative to change. We need people to stop saying negative things about police officers and continue to support them the way that they should be supported,” said Kennedy. “It is disheartening, the negative narrative that has been put around policing these last three to five years and I think the governor is going to try and change that,” he added.
With a shortage of about 1,200 municipal police across Pennsylvania and many smaller, rural communities to patrol, state police are forced to step up and protect.
“We get more and more responsibilities every single day, and we need the people to provide the services to keep the people of the Commonwealth safe and provide the professional services that we have for 115-plus years,” said Kennedy.