Alabama motorists saw more state police patrolling the roads over the Thanksgiving holiday. It's all part of a new effort to bring Alabama State Troopers more of a presence while combating a shortage of troopers.
Starting Jan. 1, agencies including the Alabama Highway Patrol, the Alabama Marine Police, and the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will all be under the same umbrella and agency.
The state has decided to call the agency the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency or ALEA. ALEA leaders have already started to roll out some of the consolidations and changes and that includes a higher number of state police on the roads during the holidays.
According to an ALEA spokesperson, 404 state police patrolled during the 2014 Thanksgiving holiday. That's up considerably compared to previous years when 275 troopers were on highways and roads in 2013 and 327 troopers patrolled in 2012.
"This helps the public in terms of our response time and in terms of what we can do for them," said Alabama State Trooper Curtis Summerville.
It's also helping combat a staffing issue. According to a study by the University of Alabama's Center for Advanced Public Safety, there are currently 289 troopers assigned to Highway Patrol. The study suggests Alabama needs to employ around 871 Troopers.
"We're making an effort to get out and be more visible, to get out and have more man power on the road to assist the public. This is certainly a benefit for the public because there are more of us out there," said Summerville.