Oklahoma Higway Patrol hosts largest academy in 20 years

The 54th Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy will register 80 cadets on Friday, June 28.

"It's not only our largest academy in 20 years but we will also be hosting the highest number of female cadets in history," said Second Lieutenant Gary Vinson, commandant of the academy.

The six female cadets make up more than half of the female troopers currently on patrol.

"We have made a concerted effort to target females in our recruitment projects, and it looks like our diligence has paid off," said Vinson. Currently, there is a total 10 female troopers in the state of Oklahoma.

The larger academy is designed to increase the number of troopers on the road to keep up with agency attrition rates.

"We're just trying to get caught up in the number of troopers on patrol," said Colonel Gary Adams, chief of the patrol. "There was a time when we didn't have an academy due to budget restraints. That, coupled with retirements and increased responsibilities resulted in a stronger recruitment effort.."

The application process takes several months. Applicants are required to pass a physical agility test, written exam and oral interview with an extensive background check. Last year 496 people applied.

"The application process is intense and requires a committed focus," said Vinson. "It was created specifically to find those who are willing to give their best to become state troopers."

Thirty-three cadets have had prior law enforcement experience and 14 have military backgrounds. The cadets come from a variety of professions ranging from EMTs, teachers, dispatchers, auto parts store clerks, furniture sales clerks to plumbers, bus drivers and farm equipment suppliers.

The cadets will report at 1 p.m. for registration at the Robert R. Lester Training Center, 3600 North ML King Blvd. in Oklahoma City. Media are invited to conduct interviews.