LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - For the first time in over two years, Oklahoma Highway Patrol is set to begin their academy with a record number of cadets.
One Troop G Lt. says 97 cadets will soon walk into the OHP training facility with the goal of becoming a trooper, and even though not all 97 will likely complete the training, he says getting new troopers out on the road, especially in Comanche County would help them tremendously.
Starting later this month, Trooper Zachary Wright says the state’s potential future troopers are in for some of the most challenging times of their life.
“You are in classroom 8 hours a day working on criminal law, you are doing something physical all through the days. It’s 18-20 hour days, you are constantly busy from the time you wake up at 4 in the morning, until you go to bed at 10 at night,” says Wright.
But Lt. Steven Kirk says the rigorous training is crucial, because of what is expected of these troopers on a day to day basis.
“Troopers operate on their own, they don’t have back up like you do in the city or county. They have to make a lot of decisions on their own, and be self reliant," says Kirk.
“At any given time, there’s only one or two of us on the road, and we have four counties to cover. There’s not very many of us daily on the road, so we are alone a lot,” says Wright.
Lt. Kirk says no matter how many do end up finishing the academy, even adding a few numbers to the Troop G roster would make a world of difference.
“We are pretty short handed right now, we have big areas of responsibility,” Kirk says.
“Any number we can get down here would help us tremendously,” said Wright.
And despite the state's push for more troopers, Sgt. Wright says that won't lighten up the academy at all, because they want to find the best possible people for the job.
“We won’t keep all 97, we have an attrition rate, it’s very tough. We want good partners on the road, so they make sure they can handle it up there before they send them down to us," says Wright.
Despite this record number of cadets, OHP has already announced they are accepting applications for a future academy.