In today’s Patriot News, reporter Kira L. Schlechte penned a very well-written fact intensive article entitled “Troopers’ DUI push hits area hardest: The state police have made more arrests in this region than anywhere else. An advocate credits their training and dedication.” I would highly encourage anyone to read it.
The thrust of the story is that in Central Pennsylvania there have been more DUI arrests than even Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. She writes,
“Troop H — which handles Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Perry and York counties — has made the most arrests, with 269.”
Rather than simply concluding that there must be a massive DUI problem in Central Pennsylvania, the author takes the time to drill down to the facts. To compare proverbial apples to apples and oranges to oranges.
She points out that Troop H is the largest in terms of geography (3,824 square miles) and has the most amount of Troopers stationed (406). The author also took the time to note that the Pennsylvania State Police in central Pennsylvania are general patrol duty officers by and large where they are the only police force in the rural areas. This is called “rural response” as opposed to the way that Troopers are used in the larger urban areas where they either do not exist in large numbers or have more specialized units such as drug interdiction.
Where some in the article point to increased specialized training leading to an increase in the numbers, this information is at best speculative. Central Pennsylvania does not have a flock of highly trained DRE officers as some might contend. In fact, most do not have anything more than very basic academy training without the NHTSA recommended once every two years refresher updates.
How do I know? I have hundreds of transcripts where I have asked Troopers about their certifications and qualifications while under oath. Some were trained so long ago that under oath they say they cannot even recognize the cover let alone the content of their text books used to teach them the SFSTs. We keep a database in the office to cross-reference every officer’s or Trooper’s claims of training over a period of time.
I think the author is right. It might be more to do with the numbers as indicated in the article’s thrust and/or perhaps the focus of priorities, rather than necessarily the training. Good old fashioned honest reporting. Thank you for it.