The South Dakota Highway Patrol recently hired thirteen new recruits. But before they head out on the roads, they need to go through the highway patrol's law enforcement training program.
All of South Dakota's Highway Patrol recruits start at the George Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre. The new troopers spend eight months, training full-time in the classroom and out in the field.
"We try to prepare them in the academy for anything they may encounter during their job or career as a state trooper," South Dakota Highway Patrol Major Dana Svendsen said.
The Highway Patrol has seen quite a few retirements in the past few years. Existing troopers are given first choice to transfer to the open positions, then the recruits can put in their requests.
"And we try to honor that as much as possible just for family reasons. And some times it works out that they get one of their top three and other times they don't," Svendsen said.
By the time the 13 recruits hit the roads and get their own cars, they're going to have more than 1,000 hours of training under their belt.
Recruits receive instruction on officer survival, crash investigations, speed and code enforcement, along with firearms and driver training. Svendsen says while the public typically sees troopers writing tickets, every traffic stop or call for back up can put a trooper's life at risk.
"We do spend a lot of our time assisting other agencies that may be short staffed, or if they need back up on calls our troopers will respond," Svendsen said.
The current group of new recruits will be ready to respond in July, after graduating from the academy.
Coming up in tonight's Eye on KELOLAND at Ten, we take a closer look at the firearms training piece of the program which recruits need to master before becoming a trooper.