If your community is covered by Pennsylvania State Police, you will want to know this: while troopers cover a large part of the commonwealth, state police ranks are growing thin.
"I'm always concerned with anything concerning the state police because they cover us, and what impacts them in the state certainly impacts us," said Tom Faley, a supervisor in South Middleton Township, Cumberland County.
South Middleton is one of the many communities that rely on state police protection. The percentage of the state troopers cover may surprise you.
"Approximately 84 percent of the land mass in the commonwealth, that equates to about 66 percent of the population that where the primary law enforcement agency for those folks. So yeah, it's quite a bit," said Captain John Bey.
Troopers cover a big piece of the Keystone State and are the cornerstone when it comes to coverage. PSP needs more boots on the ground.
"We are currently over 500 down from our required compliment," Captain Margaret Dropinski said.
The compliment should be 4,677.
Even though the numbers are low, PSP says protection is not compromised. But because of the deficit along with retirements around the corner, PSP is heavily recruiting. The 138th class is training at the academy in Hershey.
"We take candidates who are 21 years of age up to 40. They cannot have reached their 40th birthday up on appointment to the academy," Dropinski said.
In an effort to get more cadets, PSP is allowing educational waivers for those with active duty military service and/or full-time law enforcement experience.
"I used my veteran's preference, but I also finished my degree so I just came in with the five-point advantage and no wavers," said Cadet Shannon Eichenseer of New Cumberland.
No wavering is allowed when it comes to the 27-week training course where cadets learn all things PSP; fromclass workk to firearms training.
"Down here on the range, you learn how to shoot and more importantly when to shoot because you have a split second to make that decision," said Corporal David Fedorshak, a firearms academy instructor.
"I've always respected the law enforcement and the military and I just felt that I wanted to find something bigger than myself and something I could actually do to serve the public," cadet Blake Gaines of Harrisburg said. "I just felt that state police was the best option for me to do that."
"This is a great career. You have great benefits, you'll have a great legacy to follow. The Pennsylvania State police have been around since 1905, so there's a lot of history, and it's the first and it's the finest," cadet Thomas Wright of Camp Hill said.
"We need the best qualified candidates that we can get," Bey said. "We need people to come out in mass and apply for our test. They don't know it, but they have a trooper inside them. When they get here, we'll bring out that trooper."
Troopers sworn to serve and protect; an oath SoutMiddletonwn township counts on.
"Pennsylvania State Police have been covering South Middleton Township for decades. We've never had a local police force and don't want one, quite frankly," Faley said.
Tuesday, August 19 2014 1:03 PM EDT2014-08-19 17:03:38 GMT
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