New Hampshire Safety Commissioner John Barthelmes says he wants to transfer the state highway patrol from the state Division of Motor Vehicles to the state police. The merger would mean that the state police would gain 80 new officers.
Barthelmes' plan is designed to end disputes between the two agencies, reduce overtime costs, and help improve public safety. Currently, officers from both the state police and the highway patrol claim jurisdiction over the state's highways. Officers from the two agencies wear different uniforms and drive cars with different markings, but their duties often overlap, leading to public confusion and arguments over jurisdiction between the two agencies.
"Does the state of New Hampshire need two traffic enforcement agencies in the same department?" asks Barthelmes, who leads both agencies. "It's a marriage that needs to be made," he told the Concord Monitor.
Barthelmes is expected to request the merger at a meeting of the governor and Executive Council later this week.
Highway Patrol officers have worked for the DMV since they were reassigned in 1999. After that move, they were supposed to focus on commercial vehicles.
Under Barthelmes' plan, the highway patrol officers would form a new unit in the state police: the Bureau of Driver and Vehicle Regulation. The addition of the highway patrol officers would also give the state police more officers to respond to emergencies such as blizzards. Currently, such emergencies require overtime expenses estimated at $350,000 to $500,000.