CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia State Police force has grown by 28 troopers as of Friday.

24 males and four females make up the 67th Cadet Class that graduated at the State Culture Center Friday morning in front of a packed crowd that included Gov. Jim Justice.

This is the first traditional class since 2015.

“Manpower is always an issue and we are extremely excited for these 28 individuals. 24 males and four females are ready to get out on the road and get started,” Cpt. Shallon Oglesby with the State Police said.

Justice spoke of the sacrifices made by everyone at the academy including the graduates’ families.

Office of the Governor

Jim Justice

“We owe everything to our military and we owe everything to these great people and what they are doing for us every single day,” he said.

“All you families, I pray for you every single day that all these men and women will be safe and will be able to come home.”

The Kirkwood family from Richmond, North Carolina stood tall and proud on Friday watching Tony Kirkwood graduate from the academy, including his mother Dawn Kirkwood.

“You know what, it’s indescribable,” she said of the day. “It feels so wonderful, he has come a long way. He wanted this and I told him to put God first and he’ll make it.”

Alongside her husband Anthony Kirkwood, Dawn said he son has always wanted to be apart of a police force. Their 22-year old son now heads to the South Charleston base.

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Col. Jan Cahill

The message from West Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Jan Cahill was to treat every call like it’s the most important one.

Those lessons were learned by the cadets at the 6-month academy as now they head to the Field Training Officer Program on Monday.

Oglesby said the class will not work by themselves for a couple of months.

Jared Wood was the Valedictorian of the class while Victoria Jones became the first woman to receive the Outstanding Officer Award and Jacquan Ayers received the Perseverance Award. The class finished with a class GPA of 95.9.

The graduating class is comprised of the following members along with their assigned duty stations:

J. L. Anglin, Kingwood; J. M Ayers, South Charleston; C. S. Barrett, Keyser; A.N. Brumfield, South Charleston; T. A. Cathey, Martinsburg; J. A. Chapman, Wayne; R. A. Evick II, Hamlin; T. D. Fields, Logan; B. M. Gloshen, Elkins; D. M. Goodman Bridgeport; H. R. Christian, South Charleston; B. E. Hott, Martinsburg; T. C. Hurley II, Hamlin; H. E. Ingram, Quincy; V. L. Jones, Fairmont; A.M. Kerns, Romney; T. E. Kirkwood, South Charleston;R. W. Kochara, Martinsburg; J. M. Mack, Spencer; E. B. Malcomb, Elkins; T. P. Nicholson, Kingwood; C. M. Riggleman, Madison; E. K. Stirewalt-Jones Webster Springs; B. S. Stout Philippi; J. P. Thayer, Fairmont; M. K. Wimmer, Beckley; J. L. Wood, Princeton; A.R. Workman, Hamlin.

Testing for the 68th cadet class is in September.

“It’s not a job, it’s a career,” Oglesby said. “It’s a way of life and it is something that you are completely invested in.”