WEAR-TV reports on an alarming issue that many of us living in Northwest Florida had no idea was a problem. We have a dramatic shortage of Florida Highway Patrolmen. This information came to light after an Okaloosa County woman approached WEAR-TV to find out why her report of reckless driving went unanswered by law enforcement. The dangerous driving was caught on camera by the local woman after the tractor-trailer almost ran her off the road. The Okaloosa woman started to follow the tractor-trailer and after seeing the truck dramatically swerving all over Interstate 10 heading west, she called Okaloosa County dispatchers to report the dangerous truck. She called Florida Highway Patrol three times, one of those times she was rerouted by 911. Troopers never showed up to pull the driver over. All the while, this truck continued to swerve, all the way into Pensacola. According to the woman, the truck was swerving from the left side of the right lane to the shoulder. No one ever came to pull the truck over.
Channel 3’s investigative team reached out to Florida Highway Patrol to find out why they did not respond. Lieutenant Eddie Elmore confirmed they received the woman’s three calls and a “Be on the lookout” (BOLO) was transmitted to surrounding agencies. However, Elmore said that all their troopers were tied up in other calls. This was alarming not only to the woman but alarmed Channel 3 enough that they deemed the incident newsworthy. Elmore explained that there not enough troopers to respond to every call. Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton County Counties should share 65 troopers. However, there is currently only 44, leaving 21 positions unfilled. That means District 1 is only at 68 percent of their workforce. Elmore said it is an issue they are aggressively trying to address with recruitment.
According to Florida Highway Patrol’s website, they encourage individuals report reckless driving to law enforcement in order to avoid a tragic accident. Their website states “report all incidents of aggressive/careless/reckless driving to local Law Enforcement at time of occurrence by dialing 911 or *FHP. Be sure to indicate specific information such as the make/model of the vehicle, the tag number, the direction of travel, etc. when making your report.”
We are all lucky that this truck did not cause a tragic car accident that could have been avoided if the FHP had enough troopers to answer this BOLO report. We hope District 1 is able to hire enough troopers to answer all calls in a timely manner.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident where a reckless driver was the culprit, contact us at Brannon & Brannon for a free consultation at (850)863-5297 or through our website at brannoncanhelp.com.