For the first time ever, Maryland State Police trooper candidates took their oath in a graduation ceremony that was socially-distant, not open to families and live-streamed on social media, due to continuing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With just the Superintendent, bureau chiefs and Training Academy staff looking on from an appropriate distance away, the graduates of the Maryland State Police 151st Trooper Candidate Class raised their right hands and took an oath to serve and protect the people of Maryland as they officially became state troopers. The ceremony was held in the cafeteria area of the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Center in Sykesville, where the Maryland State Police operate their Training Academy.
Following remarks by Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Woodrow Jones III, Training Academy commander, Captain Brian Smith, and president of the 151st Class, Trooper Jesse O’Donald, the new troopers received their badges. A limited number of family members for each graduate were permitted into the room only as their trooper’s name was called and he or she received their badge.
Pandemic guidelines required the 33 members of the trooper candidate class to complete months of a normally residential police training academy in quarantine. Since May 11th, graduates were mandated to remain at the Training Academy around the clock and on weekends, except for the last two. The training, already known as one of most intense and comprehensive state police training programs in the nation, became even more challenging in mid-March as the class first underwent eight weeks of distance learning, followed by 12-14 hour days of intense training. During six months of strict discipline and a demanding schedule, the trooper candidates received instruction in criminal and traffic laws, emergency care, emergency driving, physical training, and scenario-based training that included de-escalation and conflict resolution.
“Class 151 will be remembered for many reasons, including the first class in our history to be quarantined,” Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Woodrow Jones III, said. “Most significantly, they will be remembered as 33 dedicated men and women willing to begin their new law enforcement career during a time when a true commitment to being a public servant who serves with empathy, integrity and a sincere desire to help others has never been more important. I thank each of them for their perseverance during this training and look forward to the good things they will accomplish in the counties and communities across our state where they will serve.”
Among the members of the class, eight have prior military experience, two previously worked in law enforcement or corrections and eight were Maryland State Police cadets. Eighteen of the recruits have college degrees and another 15 are enrolled in the concurrent Associate of Arts program with Frederick Community College and have been obtaining their degrees as they attend the Academy.
Following a brief period of leave, the new troopers will report to barracks across Maryland to begin eight weeks of practical instruction with field training troopers. Upon successful completion of that training, they will be permitted to patrol alone.