Seventy-five cadets, including two-women began their journey this past weekend toward becoming state troopers in the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
The training academy is a rigorous five and half months long course that involves classroom and intense physical training to get them ready to go on the road. Once they complete the patrol school, the training doesn't stop there. They then go into the the field training phase.
"They will put them with troopers to grade and assess them as they conduct business for the highway patrol," said Trooper Brent Barfield, MHP spokesperson. "Once they complete their training they will be assigned to a particular county in the state and they will go to work."
Barfield says the training process takes about one-year to complete. Once fully trained, the new troopers will bring much needed help to the undermanned force. Currently down about 150 troopers state-wide. At troop J, which covers the Pine Belt, they are down by over half.
"Anytime we can put people on the road it's obviously going to help, but we still need to work toward the goal of getting fully staffed completely up to where we were at in 2008. At Troop J we have 20 troopers to cover nine counties."
The are 61 alternates who could join the class should some cadets drop out in week one. Barfield says the highway patrol is not for everyone. Already 15 cadets have dropped out after the first weekend.