But both Matthews and the state police commissioner, Reuben Bradford, were happy when the troopers were rehired.

Matthews said at the time of the rehirings that he looked forward to a cooling-down period with the Malloy administration and the state police brass, as well as reduced anxiety among his rank-and-file troopers.

"I've had enough stress for one man's lifetime over the past three months,'' he said.

In his 32-page ruling, Judge Graham cited various legislators who were involved in the floor debate in the state House of Representatives, including Dargan, the longtime co-chairman of the legislature's public safety committee. He also quoted Rep. F. Philip Prelli and Rep. David McCluskey of West Hartford, who have both since left the legislature for other jobs in state government.

"We need to see if there's a more expedient process to move it along,'' Dargan said, adding that the slow hiring of new trooper classes sometimes keeps the number below the 1,248 minimum. "At one time with Rell, we were over 1,300. ... You don't want to lower the standards. You want to try to hire the best and the brightest.''

A typical class could include 60 to 75 rookie troopers, and those numbers could drop off by 10 percent as the troopers fail to finish the training academy, officials said.

The turnover within the state police was relatively high last year. Many veterans left because their pensions and benefits would not be as lucrative for those leaving after Oct. 1. When the 40 latest retirements are included, 135 troopers will have retired in 2011, according to the union.

Upon graduating from the six-month police academy, rookie troopers at the bottom of the pay scale are paid slightly more than $51,000 a year before overtime. But many veteran troopers accumulate large amounts of overtime and make more than $100,000 a year. Some sergeants earn more than $200,000 a year.

By twice rejecting the wage freeze by wide margins over several months, troopers also rejected the chance for four years of layoff protection that other state employees received.

In order to boost the numbers, Commissioner Reuben Bradford has said previously that he wants to hire a new class of 60 to 80 troopers by June 5, the date when a current list of candidates will expire.

For more than a decade, the number of troopers has been hotly contested. The state legislature placed the minimum number at 1,248, but lawmakers voted to postpone that number for three years when the state was facing tough fiscal times under Gov.John G. Rowlandin 2003.

Bradford said he has called for a study to determine the number of troopers needed.     Matthews said he first heard of the study on the day Bradford announced it, adding that he wanted to know more about it.
  
Unlike other state workers who agreed to a two-year wage freeze, the troopers will not only keep their jobs but they will also receive raises.

According to the state, the 40 veteran troopers were earning salaries totaling $2.25 million, compared with a total of $1.88 million for the 56 rookies.

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