Is the Georgia State Patrol an elite agency? That’s the latest battle between Kemp, Perdue

ATLANTA — The Georgia State Patrol is at the center of a campaign controversy between the top two Republican candidates for governor.

At question: Is the GSP an elite law enforcement agency in Georgia or not?

Perdue said Tuesday that he didn’t think the Georgia State Patrol is an elite law enforcement agency anymore, but he didn’t blame the GSP, he blamed Gov. Brian Kemp.

“We’ve got to get our State Patrol back to the elite level that it always was. Somehow, it’s been left to deteriorate by a lack of leadership from the governor’s office in the last three years, in my opinion,” Perdue said.

Perdue and Kemp are locked in a bitter campaign battle for the Republican nomination for governor.

The patrol has struggled with the same issues facing other law enforcement agencies across Georgia since the pandemic began, notably recruitment and retention of troopers.

Perdue insisted he could fix the problems.

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“This needs to be rebuilt and it’s going to take a little time. It’s not going to happen overnight,” Perdue said.

But Perdue’s comments struck a nerve in some GOP lawmakers, including former GSP Col. Bill Hitchens, who is now a state representative.

They issued a joint statement, saying:

“Former senator Perdue’s comments regarding the Georgia State Patrol are extremely disrespectful and show a blatant disregard for the distinguished service of our state law enforcement.”

Kemp pushed back hard too.

At the event where he signed the permitless Constitutional Carry bill into law, he told Channel 2 Action that he believes the GSP remains an elite agency.

“In campaigns, I’m used to being attacked, especially by people who don’t have their own record to talk about. But I’m not going to allow people to attack the Georgia State Patrol. They’re elite men and women who have been serving our state admirably for a long time,” Kemp said.

Channel 2 Action News contacted GSP for a comment on this story, but we didn’t hear back. Generally, GSP doesn’t usually respond to comments made during campaign season.

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