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Highway Patrol Graduates New Troopers

August 5, 2012, 10:00 PM by Peggy Moyer

Highway Patrol Graduates New Troopers

There are 1,700 law enforcement officers in the State of South Dakota and in just the past week, the Highway Patrol added a few more.

While law enforcement can be one of the most dangerous professions, 13 men march into the Capitol Rotunda in Pierre preparing to hand over their recruit status for the official badge of the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

They have the support of Governor Dennis Daugaard, Superintendent Colonel Craig Price and other members of the Highway Patrol's leadership team.

"It takes a special person to be able to handle the demands of the career you are beginning," Price said.

All of these men have spent the last nine months training, day in and day out.

We first introduced you to these men when they were in the middle of their firearms training. Proficiency with a gun wasn't a requirement coming into the training, but they all graduate with high accuracy using several types of weapons.

We also took you out to the driver's training course where the recruits learned not only pursuit driving skills, but also defensive driving.

The 35 weeks of training for the recruit troopers culminated with ten weeks in the cars in field training. That's when many of them say they had to use what they learned in the classroom.

We caught up with Trooper Jerry Kastein at graduation and he tells us about needing those driving skills during field training.

"Within the first week on the road, we were responding to crashes where there were injuries and we had to use that training," Kastein said.

Daugaard also thanked the graduates for their commitment to serving our state. Daugaard thanked their families for the sacrifices they will make when their husband, father or son is called away from family time to respond to emergencies.

A long standing tradition of the Highway Patrol is to have a family member or loved one pin on each trooper's official badge. 

"It feels great. I'm totally excited about getting out and getting a chance to serve," graduating trooper David Campbell said.

The new troopers say they know not everyone they encounter in the line of duty is going to respect the rules of the road or the laws. But it's with a desire to keep people safe. And they will don their new uniform with pride.

"We are there to assist and to help. We are not there to bully or to be the bad guy that wants to write people tickets. We're trying to keep the roads safe," Campbell said.

"I wake up every morning and I look in the mirror and say that's what I want to do and that's what drives me forward," graduating trooper Casey Bassett said.

And it's with their official Highway Patrol badge, these new troopers hit the roads to fulfill their oath to serve and protect.

The new troopers are already working in their duty stations.

The Highway Patrol is currently looking for another ten to 12 recruits for the next training class to fill open positions across the state.

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