Audit: State Patrol could improve deployments

ATLANTA — Most state troopers are getting off work about the time fatal accidents are the most likely, according to an audit critical of the Georgia State Patrol’s allocation of resources.

The law enforcement agency has begun shifting when it schedules troopers to patrol the roads, but it also disagrees with many of the audit’s recommendations.

The 55-page management study by the Department of Audits & Accounts was released Tuesday. It analyzed staffing, deployment and activities.

It found the agency assigns the most troopers to patrol Monday through Thursday and the fewest on nights and weekends, when most accidents occur. It also identified counties, such as Glynn and Coweta, where too few troopers were assigned for the level of traffic at any time of day.

Auditors recommended the State Patrol close half its posts as a way to free up more than 100 troopers for road duty, a recommendation originally made by a study by the patrol in 2005.

“GSP should allocate staffing resources to areas of the state in a manner that correlates with potential workload or need,” the auditors wrote.

Col. Mark McDonough, the commissioner of public safety, said he thinks the auditors know more about counting money than policing.

“Some of the things they bring up is really a lack of understanding of what our mission is,” he said. “They’re not law enforcement folks; they’re auditors.”

The number and location of posts is a factor of keeping good community relations, he said, “like Mayberry.”

The State Patrol installed a centralized dispatching system in 2009 that eliminated 70 jobs and will provide statistics for better matching staffing with need in the future. But the auditors noted that they were able to make their analysis without it and that the patrol’s leadership could have as well.

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