Department of Public Safety proposes pay increase for OHP

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Patrolling the highways might not pay all the bills for some Oklahoma Highway patrol troopers. Their pay ranks 15th in the state compared to other law enforcement agencies, so the Department of Public Safety is pushing for a pay increase for the OHP.

"A lot of us troopers on our days off are performing additional, off-duty security jobs. A lot of us have our own businesses that we do," said Trooper Brian Quinn.

Starting pay for a trooper cadet is $33,000 dollars. With other law enforcement agencies paying $42,000 dollars to start, troopers are leaving the patrol.

Right now OHP employs 770 officers out of the 925 it's allowed to have.

"A lot of other cities, and bigger cities and counties are paying more money where these qualified applicants go and work for them instead of coming with us," said Trooper Quinn.

If the legislature approves the increase, $7 million more dollars overall would go toward trooper pay in fiscal year 2014. It would help drive up a trooper's starting salary to $38,000 dollars -- a boost that Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson said would raise the level of service for Oklahomans.

"We're out trying to get the right guys in," said Thompson. "And ultimately what we're trying to do is make sure that we're able to serve the state in the most effective ways possible."

Until the legislature votes -- troopers will have to keep on patrolling for less.

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