Woodward, Okla. —
For many professions a uniform can be a badge of honor. This includes the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, which is currently seeking applicants willing to don the browns of the Trooper uniform.
"There have been only approximately 3,000 people who have ever worn the uniform of an Oklahoma state trooper since 1937," OHP Capt. George Brown said.
That number is based on an average of 50 people per OHP academy, with the 61st academy preparing to graduate next month, Brown said.
"So it's only a select few who are actually willing to step up and do what it takes to wear that uniform," he said.
And now you could be one of those select few as OHP has extended its latest recruitment period for the upcoming 62nd academy.
Brown said the recruitment period had been slated to end on May 31. But with only approximately 344 people submitting applications, OHP officials decided to extend the application deadline until June 30 to try to attract a larger recruitment pool.
"When I came on for patrol around 16 years ago, there were about 1,000 applicants which was par for the course for years past," Brown said. "Since that time the number has decreased and it seems to be decreasing every year. Until the point we have now, where as of last week we had under 400 applicants."
So the state police have reached out to the media in a recruitment campaign with "a goal to increase that number to about 600-plus. We feel that will give us a nice large number to recruit from."
That's because OHP is looking to fill out its ranks.
"We're authorized for 925 troopers, but we currently have on the books 742," Brown said, noting that "does not include the 41 cadets in the academy now which will graduate next month and the 60 troopers we wish to put in the academy next year."
As to why the state is looking for 600 applicants when it only hopes to select a tenth of that to attend the academy, the OHP captain said it is all about getting more quality candidates.
"The greater number to choose from, the better the competition and ultimately the better quality of applicants for the academy, and that's what we want for our citizens," he said.
Because with any number of applicants, Brown said there is going to be a certain percentage "who won't qualify for some reason or another" and then another group "who won't pass the background check or any of the physical tests," which decreases the recruitment pool.
To qualify for the OHP academy, an applicant must be 23- to 45-years-old, have a minimum of 62-college hours or an associates degree from an accredited university, be a US citizen, have a clean background and be able to pass "a battery of tests," Brown said. The tests include a polygraph, written test, physical test, medical exam, and psychological exam.
So just making it to the academy is no easy feat. Then during the academy, cadets will face a number of challenges.
"We make no bones about it, the academy is tough. It's about 19 weeks and it's very tough, but the job itself is tough and demanding," Brown said. "We work shift work. We work nights and holidays and weekends and sometimes round the clock work. And we ask troopers to perform in the worst kind of conditions. So we're looking for someone willing to take on that service and that sacrifice, hopefully for at least 20 years of service."
As to why someone would "take on that challenge for their state," Brown said that the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is "one of the most respected law enforcement professions in the state of Oklahoma."
"We're a very professional agency and we're very proud of the men and women who were the uniform," he said. "We're also very proud of the things we've done in past years from the I-44 bridge collapse to responding to the Oklahoma City Murrah bombing to the recent tornadoes in Moore. We provide a service that I believe the citizens in Oklahoma desperately need and we provide that service admirably."
Personally, Brown said he would recommend the job because it offers "the opportunity to save lives."
"Some of the highlights of my career have been saving lives," he said. "At the end of the day, when I go home and I have been able to save a child from a burning car or help a young man turn his life around from drug addiction, or save a single mother or a family, and I have, those are the memories that stick with me. That is what motivates me to wake up the next morning and go back to work."
For more information about OHP recruitment and how to apply for the 62nd OHP academy, visit
www.ohptroopers.com/recruiting.html. Or you can request an application by contacting the OHP Human Resources office at (405) 425-2400.