BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — After years of shrinking trooper ranks, Louisiana is planning to train a new class of state police officers early next year.

Budget constraints kept the state police from adding new troopers. But lawmakers earmarked a $5 million set-aside fund for the training in the last legislative session, saying they worried that too few officers were patrolling state highways.

The 19-week training academy for 50 people is scheduled to begin in January. The Louisiana State Police says it's the first cadet class since September 2008.

Trooper ranks have dwindled from more than 1,150 in 2009 to fewer than 950 this year.

Lawmakers concerned about the thinning number decided to allocate money expected from enhanced debt collection efforts by the newly-created Office of Debt Recovery to pay for the trooper training.

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