Missouri State Highway Patrol looking to grow

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri State Highway Trooper Andrew Armstrong has been helping the community for 14 years. 

Although he says now things are a bit tougher because he said the highway patrol is currently understaffed to the point where it is more difficult for the current troopers to be as effective as they would like to.

"Being short-staffed is hard for the troopers that are on the road," Armstrong said. "It's hard to be able to get to the calls that we have in a timely manner. So if we could be full staffed it would benefit the citizens of Missouri greatly."

Armstrong said with a full staff people can expect troopers to arrive at scenes quicker, and troopers would then be able to spend more time at the particular incident.

To combat the problem, the patrol is taking applications for new troopers.

To be eligible, candidates must have a minimum of 30 college credits, two years of federal active duty military service with an honorable discharge, or two years of full-time POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certified experience as a law enforcement officer with arrest authority at the time recruit training begins. 

That certainly isn't all, though. 

There are nine different procedures that need to be completed in order to be selected. It's a process that recruiter Lieutenant Roger Whittler said takes about eight months to complete, but Armstrong said each step is equally important. 

"We need to be able to find people that can do the job, that are physically capable of doing the job, that are mentally capable of doing the job and that have the education capabilities of being a state trooper." Armstrong said.

It's a hiring process with no limit on the amount of applicants or people that get accepted, making it very unique. 

"We like it to be a competitive process," Whittler said. "We hire as many people as we see are able and ready to go into the academy. Normally it's between 40 and 60, but most of the time the number reduces itself."

Whittler said many people end up dropping out, but that isn't the only reason why he doesn't see as many applicants. 

"The economy has a lot to do with the fact that we don't get as many applicants as we used to," he said. "There's a lot more jobs out there. There's a lot more diverse career opportunities."

The starting salary for trooper is $3,168 per month while in training and rises to $3,652 per month after two years of service, but Whittler said there is a lot of room for that to increase.

"Our career has a lot of growth potential," he said. "There's a lot of opportunities for promotions and various occupations within the line of work."

The application deadline is March  29, and testing began at some state locations on March 14.