Highway Patrol graduates largest class in 43 years

SDHP July 2017 graduation

South Dakota drivers will soon see new faces patrolling the roads.   The South Dakota Highway Patrol is welcoming its largest group of new troopers in more than four decades - and the most women to ever graduate in one class - to the department this week.   The 20 new troopers, who graduated Friday in Pierre, was the largest class since 1974, when 25 recruits were hired to patrol the state.  The typical size the last years has been around 10 to 13.   This year's class also has the largest number of women graduating at once in agency history.  Five of the 20 new troopers are women.  Why the increase in overall numbers and women recruits?   Better, more personal marketing of law enforcement as a community service, says Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the Highway Patrol.  "There are a lot of people out there who have an interest in helping their community," Price said.  The Highway Patrol did do a few extra recruiting efforts to try and interest more women in the department, Price said, but said the main focus was finding "the most qualified people."   Recruits went through basic law enforcement training, the South Dakota Highway Patrol Recruit Academy and field training. The entire process takes about one year.  Recruits go through a 13-week basic law enforcement training with other agency recruits before moving on to highway patrol-specific training.  They spend an additional five months in classroom training and another three in the field.   "It's intense.  These folks go through extreme training," Price said.  "It's critically important for families and our (troopers) that they know what they're doing."   The graduation ceremony was held Friday morning in Pierre and many of the troopers will be on duty the next day.

                 7/24/17

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