MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - More than 100 new recruits were recently sworn in as Michigan State Troopers. 22 of those new Troopers have been assigned to eight different posts across the Upper Peninsula. That's the largest group of new recruits the U.P. has ever seen in 100 years.
Commander John Halpin says for some of these recruits, reality is still setting in.
"People from all over the state apply to the State Police never knowing where they're going to get stationed," Halpin stated.
"I just told this group that they're very fortunate to become Troopers in the Upper Peninsula because it's a different way of life up here where we still can interact with our citizens because that's who we serve," Halpin declared.
They've just completed a rigorous 28 week training program at the academy in Lansing. Over that time, 35 of the original 136 cadets dropped out.
Trooper Justin Roberts was assigned to the St. Ignace Post. He has a military background and says the past seven months in the academy were more difficult than basic training.
"Mentally I'd say it was the most challenging I've ever done. It just really tested you mentally and physically. You really feel like you accomplished something after graduating from that place," Roberts asserted.
Training consisted a wide range of subjects including firearms, water safety, defensive tactics, patrol techniques, report writing, ethics, cultural diversity, first aid, criminal law, crime scene investigation, and precision driving.
All cadets must also sustain a dose of pepper spray, the effects of which are said to linger for 2-3 days.
With the academy behind them, each new recruit spent the day Wednesday going through orientation. Here, they got a look inside the forensics and chemistry labs and learned more about how evidence gets processed.
“With the new laws pertaining to recreational marijuana, it is a different scenario than it was a few years ago. So these new troopers have the latest training in detection of operating while impaired, under the influence of alcohol and or drugs,” Halpin announced.
Commander Halpin says the recruits will get more specific and in-depth instruction with a 17-week field training program where they'll be paired up with a senior trooper.
Trooper Laken Hammon has just been assigned to the Negaunee Post.
“I’m excited. I’ve heard all good things about the Post. I’m definitely looking forward to getting on the road and meeting the community,” Hammon disclosed.
Trooper Paul Maxinoski, originally from Montreal, WI was assigned to the Wakefield Post. So with his new assignment, we'll essentially patrol the streets knew as a child.
"I desire to motivate kids more often from my area. I think it's something that a lot of them struggle with as far as finding their niche in life. So I'd like to be part of that guidance in their life," Maxinoski revealed.
Meanwhile, Commander Halpin reminds us these recruits and all Michigan State Police Troopers are prepared for anything and everything. That includes a casual conversation with members of the community.
"If you see a Trooper out there, whether they're in the store or a coffee shop somewhere, go up to them and talk to them. I just stressed to this new bunch that they need to be reaching out to our community. Because we are part of the community. We may be wearing the uniform eight to ten hours a day but the rest of the day, we're still part of that community. So we're on the same team," Commander Halpin encouraged.
Congratulations and good luck! Look for the next recruit school to begin in June, 2019.