New trooper assigned to Crenshaw County

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The recent graduation of 20 new state troopers means the Crenshaw County Sheriff's Department will receive much-needed help in patrolling its roadways.

Following a brief period of leave, Tpr. Jeffery D. Spivey will conduct his field training in Crenshaw County, which will then become his permanent station.

Sheriff Charles West welcomed the news.

"I'll do cartwheels for a state trooper," said West. "This will help us out tremendously."

Crenshaw County currently has two state troopers assigned to the area. However, one patrolman was called up for duty with the National Guard and is in Iraq. That has left one state trooper to help the sheriff's office maintain safety and work accidents along state and county highways.

State trooper spokesperson Sgt. Tommy Waters said an officer would administer Spivey's training over a 10-week period. This probationary period allows a veteran trooper to observe new graduates and ensure they follow proper procedures during traffic stops and while working accident scenes.

Upon completion of this 10-week period, the training officer can then recommend the new trooper be taken off probation and assigned a permanent patrol vehicle.

Waters said there are actually supposed to be four state troopers assigned to Crenshaw County. However, like many law enforcement agencies across the state, the Department of Public Safety is suffering from state budget cuts. Alabama had 369 state troopers in 1964. In 2003 that number was down to 320, well below the 575 total recommended for a state the size of Alabama.

And unlike their counterparts in the 60s, today's troopers also have to perform extra duties like patrolling state and federal sites when a terrorist threat is elevated.

"It's a problem that we're dealing with across the board," said Waters about the lack of state troopers. "Since Jan. 1 of this year we've worked 40 fatalities on Alabama highways. That's not counting all of the other accidents we've had where someone has been injured or uninjured."

West said he couldn't remember the last time Crenshaw County had four troopers.

"There hasn't been four here in a long time," he said.

The new troopers were sworn in on Friday, June 17 by Department of Public Safety Director Col. W.M. Coppage.

Spivey was selected as the class's top performer overall, receiving the Commander's Award for exhibiting exceptional leadership, professionalism and dedication to Class 2005-A and the Department of Public Safety, while maintaining a high academic average.

In a message to the graduates, Gov. Bob Riley thanked the new troopers for choosing a career in public service.

"On behalf of the people of Alabama," he said, "I thank you for your commitment to law enforcement and public service. You are essential to preserving and protecting the safety of all who travel Alabama's roadways. I congratulate you on your accomplishments and wish you all a safe and productive career ahead."

Coppage commended Alabama's newest troopers for their achievement and welcomed them to the ranks of the Highway Patrol.

"In patrolling Alabama's roadways," said Coppage, "you will play a vital role in protecting the public's safety. In this first assignment and throughout your service with the Department of Public Safety, always remember that your charge as state troopers is a noble one, requiring the highest level of integrity."