Despite Trooper Graduation, State Police Numbers Remain Low

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

It was a day of celebration and excitement.

"I'm overwhelmed with emotion. I'm so proud of him and excited," said Jenilee Purdy, who attend the 125th Trooper School Graduation at the Lansing Center Friday afternoon. She was there to watch her husband be sworn in. "It's so exciting, this has been his dream forever--ever since he was little. I'm so proud."

After 21 weeks of rigorous training 65 men and women, joined the Michigan State Police ranks.

Purdy's husband is headed to the Brighton Post. Its one of 29 in the state.

For the families, graduation is an emotional roller coaster.

"All rolled in one--I'm scared, I'm nervous, I'm happy, I'm proud, I'm excited," said Purdy. "God's watching over him, so I know everything will be ok."

15 people did not finish the training. The 65 new troopers are the best of the best. They were selected from thousands of applicants.

"This is a big day, obviously for the recruits, but also for the Michigan State Police," said Lieutenant Colonel Tom Sands, the MSP Deputy Director. "We desperately need these new recruits out in the field, and they are going to really help us."

In just over a decade, the State Police force has been reduced by more than 350 troopers state wide.

"Do you need more troopers to adequately do the job?" News Ten's Brian Johnson asked.

"Well we do," said Tom Kish, the MSP Lansing Post Commander. "Troopers fill a role that is somewhat unique in our law enforcement circles."

The State Police supplement local police departments.

Michigan has eight of the top 100 most dangerous cities in the country.

"We are moving in the right direction, we have tremendous support from the governor and the legislature to fund the state police so we are making progress," said Lt. Col. Sands.

However the numbers don't show that. Two trooper graduations ago, in October 2012, there were 965 troopers. One year later, and the new total is 968--just three more.

"Certainly we'd like more troopers, obviously the more we have out there, the more that we can put out into our communities, but we do have financial restraints as well," said Lt. Col. Sands.

"The response times right now are acceptable, but they can always be improved. Certainly we would like the fastest possible response times," said Kish. "The Lansing Post is getting the job done with the staffing that we have, but more staffing is only going to enable us to be more responsive to handle more calls for service."

The Lansing post is still trying to rebuild it's ranks. Post Commander Kish said its staffed with fewer troopers than it had 10 years ago.

Six of Friday's graduates are headed to Mid-Michigan--three in Lansing and three in Jackson.

"These three troopers that we are getting at Lansing are just an injection of enthusiasm and energy," said Kish. "We are very pleased to have three--the three we are getting are just outstanding recruits."

While graduation is over, the trooper training is not. The moment the troopers hit the field, they start 17 weeks of field training.

"Our training academy is second to none," said Kish. "The quality level of the training they get is amazing."

The state plans on starting the 126th Trooper Recruit School early next year. Those interested in applying should visit the Michigan State Police jobs website linked below for more information. The MSP anticipates the 127th school in late 2014.

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