The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw, Texas Public Safety Commission Chair Cynthia Leon, and members of the Public Safety Commission (PSC) today [Friday] were joined by Texas Sen. Donna Campbell and Texas State Rep. Mark Keough as the department commissioned 116 men and women as the state’s newest Highway Patrol Troopers during the recruit graduation ceremony. Sen. Campbell was the keynote speaker during the ceremony, which was held today in Austin. “The people of Texas will forever be grateful to the courageous men and women – past and present – who pledge their lives to protecting and serving others no matter the cost, and today, 116 new Texas Highway Patrol Troopers join that esteemed legion,” said Sen. Campbell. “Thank you for answering this honorable call of duty – your grit and enthusiasm are an inspiration, and I know you will make us all proud.” The C-2016 class – which includes 14 former peace officers, 47 military veterans and a set of twin brothers – will report to duty stations across Texas in the coming weeks and spend the first six months in on-the-job training. “I want to thank and congratulate all of our graduates here today. Your perseverance through the many months of demanding training has certainly paid off – you’ve earned the right and privilege to be called a Texas State Trooper,” said Chair Leon. “We appreciate your willingness to serve and are pleased to officially welcome you to the DPS family.” The troopers began the 23-week training academy in July. Instruction covered more than 100 subjects, including counterterrorism, tr affic and criminal law, arrest and control procedures, accident reconstruction, first aid and Spanish. They also received training in use of force, communication skills, firearms, driving, criminal interdiction, cultural diversity and physical fitness. “Not everyone has the mettle necessary to pursue a career in law enforcement, which requires an unwavering devotion to duty and countless sacrifices not only from the officer but also from their loved ones,” said Director McCraw. “DPS and the entire state are thankful for these 116 graduates who have risen to the challenge to become Highway Patrol Troopers sworn to serve their communities and protect Texas from a full spectrum of threats.” In 2015, the Texas Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott authorized 250 additional Trooper positions to be permanently stationed in the border area (DPS Regions 3 and 4) by August 2017, as well as additional DPS recruit schools to help fill that need and address vacancies across the state. A total of 47 troopers from Class C-2016 will be stationed in Regions 3 and 4 as part of this initiative, bringing the total number of positions to the authorized 250. “I am pleased to say that today’s graduation marks the completion of filling those 250 new positions directed by state leaders – more than eight months ahead of schedule,” said Director McCraw. “Additionally, the department is proud of the impact our men and women have made during the past two years of around-the-clock security operations combating threats posed by a porous Texas-Mexico border.” As part of the recruits’ community service project, the class raised funds for several causes, including $6,632 for DPS Trooper Chad Blackburn, who was severely injured this year when his patrol car was struck by a drunk driver; $750 worth of gifts for the Toys for Tots program; and $200 in school supplies for an elementary school.