Watson told Fox 13 that the sheer amount of vacancies is making it tougher for troopers to respond to calls in a timely manner, forcing them to, at times, rely on other agencies to help.“DUIs, traffic homicide investigations, making sure the roadways here in Florida are the safest in the nation,” he said. “This is our target. This is our bread and butter.”Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. MIAMI (WSVN) – They are tasked with keeping our roadways safe. But amid a shortage of troopers on the road, the Florida Highway Patrol claims their low pay has kept them from hiring hundreds of new recruits.According to FOX 13, FHP said there are fewer state troopers than ever before.“Being a law enforcement officer is a very challenging career,” FHP trooper Ken Watson said. “You have to get into it for the right reasons.”FHP troopers reportedly make $34,000 a year as a starting salary, which is $10,000 less than other agencies. Since 2010, FHP says it’s lost almost 1,000 troopers to retirement or higher-paying agencies.“It’s very frustrating because you lose these good people and you want to keep them here and you want to see them promoted within our agency,” said Watson. “It’s very difficult to watch another candidate leave us to go somewhere else simply because of salary. We are going to do everything we can to compete with these agencies.”Troopers in the Sunshine State are the lowest-paid in the country, despite the Florida Legislature approving a 5-percent pay increase. That makes it harder to fill hundreds of open positions.There are 44 job openings for state troopers in Southwest Florida alone. Across the state, there are over 200 positions waiting to be filled.