Recruits Work Hard To Earn Their Blue Uniforms

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JEFFERSON CITY - Highway accidents happen all the time, but the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) is improving their training program to better handle situations on the road.

30 members of the 97th recruit class started training in July and are working hard to push through a rigorous training schedule until they graduate from the program in December.

Recruits receive approximately six months (1,200 hours) of intensive academic and physical training at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Law Enforcement Academy in Jefferson City.

Corporal Jeff White has been working with the recruits on firearms training since week three. The recruits will complete 40 hours of firearms training during their time at the academy. They are not quite halfway through their training at this point, so they are still working on the fundamentals and basics of target range shooting.

"Working on things like a proper draw and getting shot placement on the target where they intend for it to go," White said.

After completing the classroom section of dry fire practice, the recruits work on static shooting so that they are able to control their shot groups and be the most effective in any situation.

"The recruits are stationary and the targets are stationary and the targets will just turn and face them and they have a set amount of time to shoot," White said.

Other areas of training include pursuit driving, self-defense, arrest procedures, and accident investigation. Traffic law, civil law, and criminal law are also some of the subjects covered during the training period.

With this extensive training also comes a required commitment and proper mindset to be able to make it through the program.

22-year-old recruit Tyler Johnson knew he wanted to become a police officer ever since sixth grade. He hopes to show the community that police officers are people who are approachable and trustworthy.

"We want the community to know that we're here to serve and protect them and will do anything we can to help them out," Johnson said.

Recruit Jerry Hunter was a Pettis County Sheriff's Deputy for eight years before starting training to become a trooper.

"The goal is to save at least one life," Hunter said. "I think if we save one, we've made an impact."

The hours are long and the work is frequently difficult, but the recruits see that this is a call that serves to transcend that. Corporal White said recruits have to want to be at the training academy for themselves in order to be successful.

"You can't put up with what we offer in the training environment unless you're motivated. If you're here for someone else, if you're here because you think it might be something good to do, you're not going to make it. You have to be here and you have to be willing to put in the effort it's going to take," White said.

White also made the point that one of the biggest lessons the recruits take away from training is learning to take on responsibility.

"For some of them, it's the first time they've had these kind of challenges and it's really an interesting process to watch them move from the first day of recruit school until graduation when they'll be walking across the stage and receiving their diplomas," White said."

The next phase of training for the recruits will involve going to the outdoor range where recruits will be moving around cars and shooting at targets. They will learn how to use cars as cover and concealment when dealing with situations out on the road.