FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Florida Highway Patrol is growing. More troopers are gearing up to hit the road in a matter of months. People can expect to see two to three more troopers on roads like I-75 as part of a reorganization to move more middle management back onto the street.
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Sean Ellis knows first hand what it's like to work short staffed.
"Right now my squad we only currently have three guys in the Fort Myers area so even one or two more guys or gals would help us out a lot," said Ellis.
More troopers are on the way despite FHP offices closing in Naples, Lake Placid and Arcadia July 1 due to state budget cuts. It's all part of a reorganization.
"You're not taking people off the street, you're putting them on?" said Genevieve Judge, WINK News reporter. "That's what we're trying to do. We really, honestly, that's our goal, get more people on the street," said Lt. John Tower, FHP.
Middle management is moving out of the office and onto the street. Troopers cars are mobile offices with a computer, printer and anything else they might need in an office. Tower said 27 traffic homicide investigators has been slimmed down to 15 because traffic deaths have decreased in the last three years.
"Those 12 traffic homicide investigators that were previous in the program, are now going to be working zones and answering calls for service as opposed to doing traffic homicide investigations," said Tower.
By limiting number of specialty positions, its keeping jobs rather than eliminating them.
"Downgrade ranking positions down to trooper positions because that is where we meet the public, is at the trooper position," said Tower.
On any given day in southwest Florida, you'll find two to three troopers on the road. Once the new FHP graduates hit the street, those numbers will increase to four to five, meaning troopers like Ellis will get a little help.
Definitely a relief getting more troopers on the road," said Ellis.
New FHP troopers that just graduated from the Academy in Tallahassee are in field training for the next three months or so. When they pass, they'll hit the road and be on solo patrol in southwest Florida.