PLATTSBURGH — State Trooper Pam Corey loves her job.
She graduated from the New York State Police Academy on May 28 with 192 other troopers, 35 of whom have been assigned to Troop B in the North Country.
The deadline for aspiring troopers to sign up online for the next entrance exam is Sept. 8.
Most troopers in the most recent graduating class started academy training last November. There, they underwent daily physical training, four extensive academic exams and two physical tests, Corey said.
“I think quite a few people showed up and were pretty surprised at the intensity of it all,” Trooper Johnathan Bailey said of the academy. “There were people that quit on the first night, a handful that quit within the first week, and we had 26 total that had either bailed out or quit by the end.”
He lost 20 pounds over the course of the first three months, thanks to the stringent physical program.
That group of recruits had waited about three years, through a state hiring freeze, to become members of the State Police.
Corey said female recruits are held to the same standards as the men; 20 percent of the academy class was women.
She made her first arrest as a trooper on her first day of field training, she said, for unlawful possession of marijuana that stemmed from a complaint of a domestic dispute, Corey said.
”It’s kind of nerve-wracking (to arrest someone) but at the same time, I thought it was easier because I had a field training officer with me to try to give me tips and pointers and make me aware if I was doing anything wrong,” she said.
“You do a lot of (real-life inspired) scenarios when you’re down in the academy, too, so it’s not like this is your first time using handcuffs.”
MANY SIGN UP
Troop B Recruitment Officer Bernie Bullis said the ideal trooper has a strong moral compass, is willing to take on challenges and solve problems, likes to stay active and enjoys being part of a team.
By Aug. 8, 654 people in Troop B’s area had signed up to take the upcoming entrance exam, he said, with 19,191 statewide.
Of the 21,000 who took the test the last time it was offered in 2008, 16,000 passed.
HIGH INTEGRITY, COMMON SENSE
”I’d have to say that the ideal trooper is a well-rounded individual with high integrity and common sense,” Bullis said.
“We’re a reflection of society” in that State Police values diversity and people that come from all kinds of backgrounds, he said.
The vast majority of the general population are law-abiding citizens; troopers police only 10 percent of society, he noted.
“We have to help bring balance and common sense to the problem they’re facing us with.”
CAN REACH GOALS
The State Police can offer ambitious individuals that have grown up in the North Country a career that can meet their personal and professional goals, like owning a home and living close to family, Bullis said.
This kind of opportunity is rare in the local job market, he said.
Trooper Zachary Eppler decided to apply for a job with the State Police after he had an internship with the agency and also heard from those employed there that there were many opportunities for advancement.
At the academy graduation ceremony, Eppler was recognized with the Joseph T. Aversa Physical Training Award, as during the physical agility testing, he achieved the highest score of all 192 members of the 199th session.
Eppler said the work in the field has been engaging and rewarding.
“There are times when I definitely like going to calls and helping people and solving mysteries and problems. Some of the cases that we get are pretty interesting.”
But there’s a lot more to being a trooper than meets the eye, he said.
“This job has tons of aspects: the law, whether it be Vehicle and Traffic Law, Penal Law, there are so many different laws that you have to know on the job, as well as the procedures, but they do a good job training you.”
’A BIG PUZZLE’
“I think it takes a while for a person to become their own trooper,” said Trooper Marc Felio, one of Eppler’s two field training officers.
“When I was training, I looked at all the troopers who were working here, and I tried to take what they did the best and integrate it into my routine,” he said.
“You take all the senior guys that have been working here for awhile and say, ‘I like how he handled that situation. I think that’s what I’m going to do the next time.’”
”It’s kind of like a big puzzle, and you take a piece from everybody.”
’A LOT OF FUN’
Bailey said good public speaking skills are helpful to troopers and echoed Bullis’s view that they need good moral fiber and integrity.
“You’re cut free, you’re on the road by yourself in a patrol car, and you have a gun, and you have to make a lot of decisions on your own, so you want somebody that’s going to make good decisions and not take advantage of the situation,” he said.
Before his completion of the field training program, Bailey said, he was a bit anxious being out on the road by himself when the time came.
“We’re nervous because you obviously can’t run into every situation (during training) that you will run into while you’re alone.”
But his training in the both the academy and in the field will undoubtedly serve him well, he said.
“I’m excited for the opportunity (to serve),” Bailey said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Email Felicia Krieg: firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg
The deadline to sign up for the State Trooper exam is Sept. 8, 2013.
For those on active military duty and aren't able to take the test that day, exams will be offered on Oct. 5 and 19 in Yokum Hall, SUNY Plattsburgh campus, and Oct. 12 and 26 in Dana Dining Center on the St. Lawrence University campus.
To sign up for the exam or for more information, go to nytrooper.com. Reach Troop B Recruitment Officer Bernie Bullis at 897-2055 or email@example.com.