TYLER (KYTX) - A wave of state troopers are preparing to retire.
And the Texas Public Safety Commission is urging more competitive salaries so DPS can recruit the best and brightest.
Troopers have a lot of ground to cover in Smith County and across the state.
That's why being a trooper carries a lot of responsibility.
But the state auditor says lower salaries at DPS maybe driving recruits away from taking a seat in the black and white patrol cars.
The Department of Public Safety is pulling out all the stops when it comes to recruiting.
From online videos at the DPS website, to job fairs.
"They have a hazardous job, not just anybody could do. I wouldn't want to take their place," says Cecil Baker, a driver.
"I didn't realize what all they did until my family members got involved or became officers," says Lynn Dark.
Dark has two family members who are troopers.
She says they don't get paid nearly enough.
The state auditor found trooper base pay is lower than at least 4 other law enforcement agencies in the state.
It's $35,787 dollars a year.
Officers at the Dallas and Fort Worth Police Departments, Harris County Sheriff's Office and Alcoholic Beverage Commission all make more.
That's why the Public Safety Commission wants trooper salaries more competitive.
"That's necessity in order to retain and recruit employees," says Trooper Jeanne Dark.
Trooper Dark says large cities can afford to pay officers more.
Dallas tops the list a base pay of $41,209 dollars a year.
"You'll see in Austin PD and Dallas PD are increasing levels of interest in applicants to that police agency," says Trooper Dark.
Troopers have a hazardous job from all the ground covered.
They could be working a wreck, or just pulling over a car, but they don't know what's facing them in the driver's seat.
From investigations to accident, it's al part of the job.
"It's their job to keep us safe and protect us," says Lynn Dark.
A job some worry they're not getting paid enough to do.
The Public Safety Commission hopes if the price is right, there will be an influx in recruiting classes.
But it would be up to lawmakers to decide how much of an increase is necessary and how to fund it when the legislature convenes in January.
The State Auditor's Office placed three options in the report that would raise the salary for troopers.
For more information on the options the Auditor's office suggests, click here.