26 graduate and join the ranks of the Rhode Island State Police

ri grads

They are athletes, college graduates, some military and some former police officers. On Friday, they all had earned the same title — new Rhode Island state troopers. The 26 graduates, chosen out of more than 1,500 applicants, made it through a grueling 24-week academy. They are graduating into a climate of turmoil and tension between police and the community they serve, as their new boss, Col. Steven G. O'Donnell, and other graduation speakers noted at the ceremony at the Rhode Island Convention Center. The academy was designed to test them, in order to keep them safe, O'Donnell said. The black mourning bands they all wear on their uniforms symbolize the recent deaths of police officers in the line of duty, in Dallas, Baton Rouge and in San Diego, just Thursday night. "It's not an easy time to be a police officer, in some ways it's more difficult than it's ever been," said Gov. Gina Raimondo, as she congratulated them for "choosing to serve." For the new troopers and their loved ones, potential danger didn't overshadow the joy of graduating. As new trooper Andrew B. Pilling, an Army veteran, quoted in his speech for the class: "Only one kind of person makes it through, and that's the person who doesn't quit." Of the 26, there was one Hispanic male and only one woman. O'Donnell said last month that the training academy originally had minority recruits but they dropped out. The state police recently launched a Diversity Academy, in partnership with Providence College, to increase recruiting of minorities. New trooper Lauren E. Lanoie, the only woman to graduate, is also the first in her family to join law enforcement. "It's terrific," said her grandparents, Monica and Joseph A. Janton, of West Warwick. "It's a big honor. We're so proud of her." Lanoie, 24, said she joined the West Warwick police explorers when she was a teen, and "I just fell in love with it." She pursued a job with the state police after graduating from the University of Rhode Island. New trooper Jason R. DiFusco pushed to graduate with a finance degree in three years from Bryant University and put his ROTC program on hold to get through the academy. "He's dedicated, and he knew it was something he wanted to do from the beginning," said retired Lt. Col. Kevin Kugel, professor of military science, "to achieve his dream of being an Army officer and a Rhode Island state trooper." The new troopers are: Robert M. Bentsen, Thomas D. Bruso, Colby A. Clarke, Michael A. Colasante, Jason R. DiFusco, Travis G. Drappi, Michael J. Farais, Matthew D. Fox, Robert T. Fox, Jake A. Hesford, Corey A. Hopkins, Matthew A. House, Jeffrey S. Konieczny, Lauren E. Lanoie, Adam J. Lepre, Dean R. Marr, Zachary D. Mattera, Antonio J. Miguel Jr., Brendan T. Morgan, Andrew J. Phillips, Andrew B. Pilling, Scott T. Potter, Nicholas P. Ryan, Patrick T. Sarasin, Corey D. Sheehan, and Craig A. Stinson.

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