INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Some 25 weeks of intense training began Monday for 21 cadets at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin administered the oath of office to the cadets during a ceremony.
“Our hope is that the men that are in this class will persevere and they’ll make it through this process,” said West Virginia state police spokesman First Sgt. Michael Baylous.
Currently the department has 44 vacancies.
“It’s going to be tough to accomplish the goals that we have—and it’s going to take a lot of people taking a look at this—and hopefully a lot of people like the Legislature and the public supporting us as we try to increase our numbers,” Baylous said.
One of those goals involves beefing up special units within the department, including the Crimes Against Children Unit, but that comes with its own set of obstacles.
“You can’t just take troopers fresh out of the academy and put them in a unit like the Crimes Against Children Unit,” Baylous said. “You need well-seasoned veterans to put in there.
The first goal is to get the men in the 63rd cadet class through the training program that includes physical fitness, weapons and learning the laws of the state.
Baylous admitted administrators are very particular about who can become a West Virginia state trooper.
“We do a very extensive background before these cadets even report to the academy but what happens is over the course of 25 weeks you really get to see them day in and day out and determine their character,” he said.
Baylous added that on average, the academy’s attrition rate is 25 percent, though every class is different.
This current cadet class represents 17 West Virginia counties, as well as the states of Pennsylvania and Virginia.