Sussex is the largest of Delaware’s three counties, but it does not have a countywide police force. Instead, law enforcement duties in unincorporated sections of the county are performed by Delaware State Police.
County officials have worked with the state since the 1990s to increase the number of troopers working in the county.
In 2007, Sussex County Council signed a deal in which they agreed to pay a portion of the salaries for 40 additional troopers above the normal complement already assigned to state police troops in Georgetown, Bridgeville and Lewes.
Although the deal called for the county to help fund four more troopers each year, county and state officials agreed in 2009 to delay those additions until economic conditions improved.
On Tuesday, county and state officials announced they have agreed to resume the full terms of the 2007 deal, which will raise the number of state troopers assigned to Sussex County by four officers, starting next spring.
For this fiscal year, Sussex County is budgeted to pay the state $1.7 million for the 40 extra troopers. Four more troopers will cost an additional $445,000 to cover salaries, benefits, uniforms, equipment and vehicles, according to County Finance Director Susan W. Webb.
Together, that amounts to about $49,000 for each of the 44 additional state troopers.
County officials say that is still more cost effective than the annual $5.5 million cost of operating an independent county police force, which would equate to a per-officer cost of about $124,500.
The four additional troopers who will patrol Sussex County under the renewed agreement will begin training at the State Police Academy this fall.
“The Delaware State Police are looking forward to the opportunity of resuming the contract agreement with Sussex County Council and increase the complement of troopers in Sussex County,” State Police Col. Robert Coupe said.
County Council President Michael Vincent said the renewed deal would help provide county residents with the level of police protection they expect.
“This renewed commitment today is an investment in public safety, one that strengthens the law enforcement presence and, hopefully, reminds criminals that Sussex County belongs not to them, but to the people.”