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GA Public Safety Graduates 98th Trooper School

November 17, 2016
Trooper Graduation

Last Friday, the nation celebrated Veterans Day by recognizing the men and women who have served our country. Appropriately so, the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) held it’s 98th Trooper School Graduation with the commencement of 24 new graduates, adding to the 777 troopers currently statewide. The ceremony is a big deal for the department, the graduates and their families, as many started this process over 9 months ago.

The call and commitment to be a trooper is not just upon the individual, but also lies heavily on the spouses and children who sacrifice time away from their loved ones who are committed to public service.

What It Takes to Be a Trooper

Becoming a trooper is not a feat to scoff at nor is it a responsibility to take lightly. The employment process is stringent and lengthy — testing physical, mental and emotional capacities to the extreme.

The physical fitness assessment is done at the beginning of the application process. This helps the training staff determine whether health or physical abilities will pose a safety risk to an applicant during trooper school. The minimum physical requirements include:

  • 1.5 mile run in less than 15:34,
  • 21 push ups in less than 1 minute, and
  • 30 sit ups in less than 1 minute

Keep in mind, these are the minimum requirements that must be met to pass the physical fitness evaluation; and, these limits will be well-exceeded during trooper school.

Once applicants show they are physically capable of going to school, they must then pass a polygraph examination in congruence with a background investigation. Upon passing the background and polygraph, the applicant goes through a psychological evaluation, medical review and drug screening. The final step before starting school is the application and approval for the Peace Officers Standards and Training Council (POST) Certification.

Back to (Trooper) School

Trooper school lasts for about 33 weeks — 18 weeks spent at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, 12 weeks in field training and 1 final week back at the training center to prepare for graduation. (The extra 2 weeks are variable depending on holidays, etc.) During the first 18 weeks, troopers eat, sleep and train. With no access to their phones, computers or social media, they are removed from all distractions of the outside world. Correspondence with their family is limited as well. This is an important part of the process as it allows troopers to form bonds and lean on each other just as they’ll have to do once they report for duty.

At the completion of graduation, troopers will have completed over 1,500 hours of training which includes driving tactics, defensive skills, firearms training, criminal law education and many other skills necessary to be a trooper.

Trooper School Graduation

Trooper School Graduation is exciting. Graduates can invite family and friends to take part in this special day. In fact, some family members are seeing their physically (and mentally) transformed trooper for the first time in many months. Their heads are shaved. Flab has turned to solid muscle. Respect overrides contempt. And each graduate walks with their head held high and proud. This is the day they have worked so hard for and the day they’ve reminded themselves of, over and over again, when they thought of quitting.

During graduation, troopers are recognized for abilities displayed in different areas throughout their time in school. Awards are given for shooting accuracy, driving and maneuvering abilities and in-class testing scores.

At the start of school, each class elects a president, vice president, secretary, sergeant-at-arms, pennant bearer and chaplain to represent their class. Prior to receiving their diplomas, the class president is given an opportunity to address the audience and his fellow classmates. Dwayne Porter, President of the 98th Trooper School, commanded his classmates to:

Stay Strong. Push Through. And Lead Well.

The day before graduation, troopers are taken to DPS headquarters in Atlanta to pick up their new patrol cars and drive them back to Forsyth. The cars can be seen lined up and on display when family and friends arrive for graduation.

After walking the stage to receive their diplomas and to address the command staff, troopers receive the final piece of their uniform — their hat. The hat is given as a semblance of the successful transition from cadet to trooper. The ceremony is concluded with troopers placing the hat on their head and a cry of their final chant: “Big Blue. Big Gray. Georgia Trooper. All the Way. Everyday. Hooray. Hooray. Hooray.”

Join the Force

Want to be a part of this elite group of public servants? DPS is always looking for men and women to join their force. They are currently accepting applications for the 101st Trooper School which will begin on May 21, 2017; but, you can find other public safety jobs as well. Prior to applying, check out the automatic employment disqualifiers that will prevent you from moving further toward employment.

The application process is long and the training is brutal, but every trooper will tell you it’s well worth the journey once you get there.

Chelsea Stephens

About the Author

Chelsea Stephens is the Marketing & Training Lead for Digital Services Georgia. A Georgia native herself, Chelsea enjoys writing on topics that citizens and visitors of Georgia can enjoy and learn from. 

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