Patterson said recruiters recently vetted 53 people who were ready to take the class needed to become troopers, but funding constraints forced them to delay the class.
Right now, 26 remain. There are 36 positions funded by the Legislature that are vacant right now.
Smithers said they need the troopers, but that money has to go to other aspects of the budget. There are also at least 10 troopers who could retire in December, exacerbating the problem.
"As we stand still, other states are moving forward," Patterson said.
Other states are just as interested in recruiting minority candidates, he said. The State Police lacks consistency in its recruitment, placing doubts in the minds of potential troopers as to the possibility of employment.
Patterson is authorized to specifically target minority candidates, and he's gone to pastors in black communities, historically black colleges and other states for recruitment. There are also 25 troopers who work on recruitment part-time, compared with eight before Smithers became superintendent.
But a general lack of knowledge about what state troopers do, misperceptions about law enforcement in general and difficulties enticing candidates to head to areas in need -- McDowell County, for example -- complicate overall recruitment efforts.
It's common for a state agency to come to the Legislature with the hopes of more funding. Pointing to some of the questions lawmakers asked Monday, Smithers said increased advocacy is key to getting more money.
"We're equally at fault for not seeing the need to go to the key members of our Legislature and mapping it out for them, letting them know what our problems are today and what it's going to cost us down the road if we don't fix these problems," he said.
There are also about 400 civilian employees, Smithers said. There's only one black woman who works full-time, Patterson said. Another black woman and a black man also work part-time.
The agency also needs at least $5 million for a new computer database at its South Charleston headquarters, Smithers said. He said the agency plans to continue to provide information about its funding to lawmakers during interim meetings until the start of the 2014 legislative session.
Other Top HeadlinesPianist leaves Charleston Symphony Orchestra a generous donation