59th Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy graduates Friday

The smallest Oklahoma Highway Patrol academy class in over a decade will graduate Friday, but Academy Commandant Lt. Brent Sugg boasts they are a group for which the OHP and citizens of Oklahoma may be proud.

"Although the academy began with 33 cadets, we are very proud of the 25 who will graduate on Friday," said Sugg. "These graduates have remained dedicated to their mission and have come out at the top of their game. The diligence and perseverance they have demonstrated is highly commendable, and we believe they will take to the road ready to serve the citizens in a competent and professional manner.

Those that will make it to graduation include a diverse group of cadets such as two whose wives are Oklahoma City police officers, a chef, a helicopter pilot, a former minor league baseball pitcher, and the son of an OHP captain. There are several who have law enforcement and military backgrounds. The oldest graduate turned 40 during the academy and is a retired U.S. Marine. One of the cadets is a twenty-two year-old woman.

"Trinity Simmons is the only female who will graduate from the academy," said Sugg. "She was offered a full ride softball scholarship to East Central University in Ada for her Junior and Senior years, but chose to follow her life-long dream to become a state trooper instead.

Sugg said that even though there continues to be a great need for troopers on Oklahoma's roads, one of the greatest benefits of a smaller academy is the instructor-to-cadet ratio.

"Certainly one benefit of this small academy was that cadets received more focused instruction than they would with a larger group which is true in any educational setting," said Sugg.

He said there was increased training hours in some categories and more scenario-based training, in addition to traditional classroom hours.

"For example, we increased the seven hours required by the Certified Law Enforcement Education Training curriculum to a total of 40 hours in the first responder course," said Sugg. "We have prepared the cadets for many possible situations concerning the public's safety which is crucial when they patrol on the front lines and keeping within homeland security."

Another area that increased in the number of hours of instruction was that of firearms. Lt. Ben Crockett, lead firearms instructor, used a system of simulated shooting to increase their skills.

"We used a simulator primarily for traffic stops in shoot-don't-shoot scenarios," said Crockett. "There were hundreds of scenarios we could choose from, and we had the ability to change the scenarios to dictate that the cadets give the proper voice commands. We have used this in previous academies but increased the hours of instruction this year. The program was used in tandem with actual firing range time, target-identification drills, room-clearance drills, to name a few areas all of which are after-hours events that instructors participated in at the training center."

Cadets were required to reside on campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the first portion of the 17-week academy.

Graduation will be held at True Vine Baptist Church, 3701 North Spencer Road at 1 p.m. Friday.