52nd Academy Graduates

Oklahoma Highway Patrol officials announce the graduation of 41 cadets in the 52nd OHP Academy.

"This group of cadets has dedicated their academy to the memory of Troopers David "Rocky" Eales and Trooper Matthew Scott Evans, two troopers who were killed in the line of duty this last year," said Second Lieutenant Russell Maples, assistant commandant of the academy. "We are proud of these cadets. They are - without question - Oklahoma's finest, and definitely one of the most unique groups of individuals I've worked with while serving on staff."

Maples said during this academy one cadet saved the life of another, the first female cadet in three years is graduating; and two of the cadets' fathers are now retired troopers who graduated together from the 24th OHP Academy in 1968.

"It was only a couple of weeks into the academy when the stress level was very high. We were all eating in the cafeteria when Cadet Chad Hackler began choking on a piece of meat," said Maples. "A split-second later, Cadet Joe Hendren jumped to his feet and performed the Heimlich maneuver on Hackler, dislodging the substance and allowing him to breath again. The medical staff took over from there and every one was relieved that the incident turned out okay."

Hendren will be presented with a special award during the graduation ceremony.

"We are also pleased to see Cadet Kera Philippi graduate. She is the only one of four females who will finish the academy," said Maples.

One of the four original female cadets did not show on the first day of registration, and two others dropped during the academy. Philippi will become the ninth female trooper in the highway patrol.

"The academy is not an easy process," said Maples. "People just don't realize it takes a very special person, mentally and physically, to become a trooper. Cadet Philippi earned the title of trooper and we are all very proud of her."

Being a trooper is often a family tradition as will be witnessed with the graduation of Cadets Joseph Howard and Miles Anderson whose fathers were sworn in 32 years ago.

This year the academy was divided into two phases. Twenty-seven cadets attended the Counsel on Law Enforcement Education and Training four weeks prior to the beginning of the actual academy.

"This is a first for the highway patrol," said First Lieutenant Mike Thompson, commandant of the academy. "We have decreased the number of weeks in the actual academy to eliminate duplicative training for those cadets who have already obtained CLEET certification."

The two groups of cadets were then merged to begin the 14-week academy on June 30.

"These cadets have just concluded not only one of the toughest application processes in the state but definitely one of the most rigorous and demanding law enforcement training programs," said Thompson. "They were required to stay in-residence which makes the OHP academy different from any other law enforcement training program in the state. As residents, a tremendous amount of camaraderie and unity is instilled in the cadets."

He said the academy is tailored to prepare cadets for the demanding job of being a trooper.

"The discipline and stress orientation in the academy prepares them for life on the road," said Thompson. "A trooper might cover a large area alone with backup that could be as far away as the next county. These cadets need to learn what it's like to work a multi-car crash with fatalities, or to stop a car being driven by a felon, on their own."

Each morning the cadets began their day with organized physical training followed by inspections, and then specialized training in several areas including traffic and criminal law, self-defense, firearms, emergency vehicle operations, traffic contact, first responder, breathalyzer and officer relations.

Graduation ceremonies are Tuesday, October 4 at the Memorial Road Church of Christ, 2221 East Memorial Road in Oklahoma City at 1 p.m.

West said applications are now being taken for the 53rd OHP Academy to begin in the summer of 2000. If you are interested in applying, call the Department of Public Safety Personnel division at 405-425-2163 or send e-mail to OHPJOBS for more information. Interested applicants may also look to the DPS web site for further details. The deadline for application is October 31.