Letter to the Editor

Reader expresses displeasure with state police decision

Monday, February 15, 2010

To the Editor:

First of all, I have considered, reconsidered, postponed, and now finally have decided to respond to your article of Deb. 16, 2009, regarding Indiana State Police Motor Carrier Inspectors.

What a sham of a response by the Indiana State Police Department. I spent six years as a dispatcher and nearly 23 years as a Motor Carrier Inspector with the Indiana State Police, fortunately retiring, prior to this so-called cost-cutting move.

I held a very responsible position upon retirement as a supervisor for the Southern Third of Indiana. I most certainly have no cause to personally cry foul in this response.

It's not about me, but 42 Motor Carrier Inspectors that went to work two weeks before Christmas and were told they would be eliminated.

They were also allegedly told, do not call in sick or you will be "terminated," and also allegedly told not to make any public comments about this situation. So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your years of service.

A Motor Carrier Inspector's job is a very complex and involved position. The comments in the Department's response that, "Troopers would be assigned those duties," is simply amazing. I think if you would ask Trooper applicants or even veteran Troopers if they intended to be a police officer or a Motor Carrier Inspector when applying or working for the Department, the most obvious response would be, police officer. They most certainly can be trained to do the job, but what about the 42 police positions they're leaving behind? Can they do both jobs? Probably, to an acceptable standard.

I personally don't believe that's good enough, nor do I believe the public should be exposed to just good enough when it involves police officers and Motor Carrier Inspectors doing their jobs.

The general public has no idea how involved a Motor Carrier Inspector's responsibilities are. They definitely know what a police officer's job is.

You cannot replace the effectiveness of a Motor Carrier Inspector's job with a police officer and correspondingly make a part-time police officer out of that individual. I venture to say the result will have a negative impact on the safety of the motoring public.

As for the Indiana State Police comment about severe economic issues, I agree. It is hard times.

Currently, government, state and national, is very economically self-explanatory. It's a mess.

I realize these 42 inspectors are not the only people that have lost jobs because of the economy. But, let me explain some "state" economics to you. The very modern weigh station on I-70 at the Indiana/Illinois border, to this day, sits practically abandoned and has from the day it was established.

I, and a few other individuals, were the driving force behind the construction of that much-needed facility.

I conducted surveys, gathered information, and was involved in every meeting throughout the construction of that facility.

It was determined that revenue from just the required credentials mandated by law, that industry routinely violated, would generate several million dollars a year.

Although revenue should not be the forethought, compliance of the law is, thus resulting in revenue.

The department chose not to staff that facility from its inception.

Revenue generated from lack of industry compliance most likely would have self-supported those positions and others as well. Maybe those that use economic conditions to justify elimination of 42 critical safety positions should reevaluate the importance of safety versus economic excuses. I seriously question the number of inspections that will be performed.

I seriously question the time a trooper will dedicate to this new phase of his responsibilities.

How can he/she choose between inspecting a commercial vehicle or fulfilling their sworn duty to serve the public as a police officer? The choice is obvious and the inspections most likely will decline drastically.

They are and always will be a police officer first and react accordingly.

Hopefully, this cost-cutting economic situation will not adversely affect the safety of the motoring public.

It already has traumatically affected enough individuals, 42 people and their families to be exact. That is sad enough and to those individuals, I wish you well.

To the motoring public, I urge you to contact your legislators and encourage them to restore these safety positions immediately.

Most trucking companies are very reputable and have very few safety issues.

However, there will always be a number of commercial vehicles that are not maintained properly and will not be until they have been inspected and placed out-of-service for repairs by a Motor Carrier Inspector.

I have no doubt the number of unsafe commercial vehicles will increase.

Do you want you and your families' safety to be increasingly compromised by unsafe vehicles in such a manner?

I hope not.

Chuck Shaffer,