MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The call is being put out for people who want to become a state trooper in Mississippi. Prior to a few months ago, it had been almost two years since the state had welcomed a new class of troopers.
Almost 60 graduated in March, bringing the state's total to 520 highway patrol men and women. Six of the graduates are now working out of the highway patrol's office in Meridian. However, local officials say more are still needed.
There are currently 26 troopers who work the 9 county area for Troop H. However, by the middle of June that number will drop to 23 because of a retirement and two transfers. At times, MHP officials say the shortage can get dire.
"Sometimes we may have one individual covering the whole district along with the shift supervisor," says Sergeant Andy West, who's the Public Affairs Officer for Troop H. "So that individual may have to cover several counties on any given day."
To meet the state and local needs, people who are interested in becoming a state trooper are encouraged to apply.
"We recently graduated a school," says West. "It was Cadet Class 62. We graduated 57 cadets. That application pool had 512 to begin with. So, it's intense but it's definitely doable."
The applicants who are accepted in the school will face 20 weeks of training that is physically and mentally demanding.
"Honestly, it's not a position for someone who's just looking for a job; you probably shouldn't apply," says Sgt. West. "We're looking for someone who is career oriented. We're looking for someone who has thought this through and someone who is dedicated to the job."
Trooper school applications can be picked up at Mississippi Highway Patrol offices statewide. They may also be downloaded from the agency's website. The application deadline is June 8th. The starting salary is about $38,000 and the next trooper school is set to start in December. The Mississippi Highway Patrol will be fully staffed with 650 troopers.