53rd Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy Graduation

Three Oklahoma Highway Patrol cadets will make history on Wednesday, October 10 when they are sworn in as state troopers graduating with the 53rd OHP Academy.

Lateka Anderson, 22, will be the first black female trooper, Jimmy Dillenburg, 25, the first Asian, and Chip Keating, 21, will be the first member of a governor's family to become a trooper.

"We started with a group of 53 cadets and will graduate 34 new troopers," said Lieutenant Craig Medcalf, academy commandant. "The graduates of this academy have demonstrated discipline, professionalism and the stamina it takes by forging ahead to realize their dreams to become troopers."

Ten of the 34 graduates are reservists in the U.S. Military.

"In fact, one of the 10 reservists will report for active duty immediately following graduation services," said Medcalf. "The Air National Guard was kind enough to allow Cadet Richard J. Losurdo to stay long enough to graduate with his fellow cadets before beginning his assignment."

Losurdo has been activated for up to one year.

"After graduation, he will literally go home, drop things off and then report to his commanding officer of the Air National Guard," said Medcalf.

Cadets registered for the 15-week school on June 29.

These cadets completed not only one of the toughest application processes in the state but definitely one of the most rigorous and demanding law enforcement training academies, said Medcalf.. 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 Medcalf. 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 its 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.

"This academy held the highest academic scores ever with an average of 96 percent," said Medcalf "These scores reflect a compilation of required CLEET tests. Generally the average academy scores are in the low 90s."

Medcalf attributes the increase in academic scores to the increased qualifications to become a trooper.

"We have continuously made our qualifications more strict to recruit the best possible applicants," said Medcalf. "Our next academy begins in June 2002, and we are currently accepting applications for 72 cadets with a recruitment deadline of October 31."

The graduation ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. at the True Vine Baptist Church on the northwest corner of NE 36th Street and Spencer Road.