Governor Bill Haslam served as the keynote speaker for the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s graduation ceremony of Cadet Class 1216 at Tulip Grove Baptist Church in Old Hickory on Friday. The 33 cadets earned their badges and were officially recognized as Tennessee State Troopers for the first time. The 33 new state troopers took their oaths of office after completing 16 weeks of intense physical and classroom training at the THP Training Center. This was THP’s first-ever lateral class, meaning 100% of the graduating class had prior law enforcement experience. Included in the cadet class are six veterans, seven with bachelor's degrees, an associate’s degree graduate and 20 who have college experience. “The law enforcement experience this class of cadets brings to the Tennessee Highway Patrol is impressive, and their skills and knowledge will be needed with the challenges facing state troopers today. These cadets are putting themselves on the front lines to help protect the citizens of Tennessee and the millions of visitors to our state. I thank them for their continued service and congratulate them on this accomplishment,” Governor Haslam said. “It’s my privilege to join our state’s leadership today as we graduate the first lateral trooper cadet class in the history of the Highway Patrol," Commissioner David W. Purkey said. "These men and women are going through a training academy for the second time because they recognize the responsibility of serving as a Tennessee State Trooper. They were specifically chosen from a field of some 500 applicants, and today they will don the same uniform that I once was privileged to wear. Congratulations to each of them as they celebrate with their families – they’ve absolutely earned this honor.” “I am very proud of our newest trooper class,” Colonel Tracy Trott said. “The cadets came to our training program as individuals from a variety of law enforcement backgrounds. As they underwent an intense training regimen they bonded and became a unit. Today I am proud to call them Tennessee State Troopers. There is no doubt they are going to face increasing challenges, but I am confident that they are going to approach their duties with honor, pride in service, and as professional law enforcement officers.” As part of a class community service project, Class 1216 participated in a blood drive with the American Red Cross. The class collected 31 units of blood that served over 93 patients. Class 1216 also collected over 700 donated food items that will be delivered to the Gatlinburg area. The cadet class and the Tennessee State Trooper Association donated money to a fellow trooper cadet and his family that lost their home in the Gatlinburg wildfires. The new graduates will continue their training, totaling more than 400 hours of hands on experience in the field.