SuperTalk Mississippi

A Tough Go: How the Mississippi Trooper School Ends Up With the Best

photo courtesy Telesouth Communications INC

JACKSON, Miss.–The new class of state troopers just started training Sunday, and already more than 30 have thrown in the towel. But, that’s okay, say the people responsible for turning out new officers. Mississippi wants the best of the best.

Capt. Lori Smith said Wednesday that one of the big reasons people leave is that they just can’t hang with either the physical training, which starts at 4:45 a.m., or the rigorous academic training, which has just been revamped and amped up.

“They’re gonna be held accountable for a lot more classes than they’ve ever been tested on before,” she said. “And they’ve got to maintain a higher average, also.”

Col. Kevin Myers, with the Highway Patrol, said one reason the trooper recruits are being put through 21 weeks of training is that they will have to be at their best and sharpest every minute they’re working.

“They’re gonna be out the highway by themselves, could be late at night, backup’s 15 to 20 minutes at best. So, they’ve got to be able to survive in some tough situations make some solid decisions.”

For the average cop in Mississippi, it’s about 480 hours of curriculum at the academy. For state troopers, it’s the minimum, plus everything that goes along with being a state trooper, like accident reconstruction, interrogation techniques and technology. That adds up to 1,129 hours of academic work in the 21 week course.

“Technology has changed, so you have to put a lot of work into their computer skills,” said Smith. “Just about every report they do now is done electronically.”

She said there have been several upgrades to make sure the officers are current on technology when they graduate.

The majority of recruits have prior law enforcement experience, but some come from a military background and some are just plain rookies who decide they want to be a state trooper.

Myers said that even people who have physically trained for a long time sometimes end up not passing muster.

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