Florida Highway Patrol Troopers are Truly "Troopers"

Sen. Jeff Brandes R-St. Petersburg

Scott Keeler- Times Sen. Jeff Brandes R-St. Petersburg

Florida Highway Patrol troopers have been told by a top official that they have to write more speeding tickets.

Welch sites SOAR, the Statewide Overtime Action Response program, as the reason for the request. However, when you look at citations per hour, we are at 1.3 so we have a goal to reach.

"With the Legislature, Cabinet and governor's support we were fortunate to have a salary increase for our law enforcement officers in the current fiscal year".

The Times report adds that the Florida Highway Patrol does not receive revenue from speeding tickets.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, who oversees the highway patrol's budget, said Welch has no authority to tell troopers to write more tickets.

Lt. Col. Mike Thomas, a three-decade veteran of the patrol, said Welch could have chosen his words more carefully, but that his motives are sound and that he was not imposing a ticket quota. In his email, he wrote: "The only way to try to alter that behavior is by impacting the motorist with the sanctions surrounding a traffic citation", he wrote. That's a quota, and that's a violation of state statute, period. "No ifs, ands or buts", William Smith said.

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But the PBA also calls the memo distracting from the real issue: low pay and a shortage of troopers.

Thomas said troopers want to reduce the level of traffic deaths and injuries, but he said they often would rather encourage better driving without writing expensive tickets.

According to FHP's website, there were a total of 859,738 citations issued in 2015, compared to 742,132 in 2016.

To save lives, the patrol has launched an "Arrive Alive" campaign, a data-driven traffic safety program working with sheriffs and local police departments and focusing attention on "hot spots" where fatal and bodily injury crashes are most common.

"This $30 million in pay raises will help reward our hard-working state law enforcement officers and ensure we can continue to hire highly qualified and dedicated officers to keep Florida families safe for years to come", Scott said.

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