New York Sees Upturn of Trooper Candidates

New York Sees Upturn of Trooper Candidates

By Stephen Owsinski

Is the police recruiting pendulum swinging the other way? We sure can hope so. The dwindled number of cops out there can breathe a sigh of relief from this showing of interest by courageous individuals rallying the road to don a justice badge.

A recent significant turnout of trooper candidates seeking sworn roles with the New York State Police is being touted as a milestone not seen in over a decade.

“The State Police recently had the highest Trooper candidate processing turnout in over a decade with over 1,100 candidates participating,” a New York State Police bulletin reported.

Our cover image today will, in the oft-lengthy time it takes to process police aspirants, morph into the following depiction of an academy-graduating class of newly minted state troopers swearing their oath to serve and protect:

(Photo courtesy of the New York State Police.)

Although the “trooper” designation ordinarily means traffic-oriented cops, NYSP members also respond to calls for service in some of New York’s “Upstate” towns and villages where smaller departments request backup and/or resources such as equipment that tiny budgets can ill-afford.

Here’s an NYSP cadet caveat that exudes one of the myriad characteristics for which they were judged/selected: Giving individuals, paying it forward…

“On Wednesday, December 6, 2023, members of the 213th Session of the NYSP Basic School coordinated a donation of business attire to Veterans Miracle Center. These soon-to-be Troopers donated the business attire that they utilized during the course of their training at the Basic School. Veterans Miracle Center provides clothing to Veterans to assist them in their pursuit of civilian careers in the public and private sector,” wrote an NYSP spokesperson.

(Photo courtesy of the New York State Police.)

Although the newest academy graduates had to pay for their suits for the interview process and to self-represent their fitness and aptitude for candidacy as state troopers, once accepted into the state-run police academy, pretty much all things are compensated by the NYSP.

On a smaller scale (and likely on his dole, at least to some extent), a gentleman who is beyond what is considered prime age to join a law enforcement agency, did just that. He jutted his hand and took his oath to protect and serve his community, sort of coming out of retirement to hit the street beat once again.

(Photo courtesy of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.)

From our friends at the Dallas Police Officer Wellness Longevity (OWL) unit, we learn that newly sworn Deputy Pat Starr, now pinning a star in Colorado, served as a Dallas cop for many years before retirement. Seems it is in the blood; he has returned to fight the good fight (notice the mourning band hugging the badge of the law enforcement figurehead conducting Deputy Starr’s oath-taking moment).

“I’m so proud of my old partner for returning to the profession. Great cop here in Dallas for two decades and is now taking his talents to Grand County Sheriff’s Office. Pat Starr, love ya buddy. I expect some new patches sent to me,” said his former colleague at the Dallas Police Department.

Similarly, a young lady in New York was also recently sworn in as the newest member of the Camillus Police Department. Whereas the prospective trooper candidates will have a full class of selectees instructed by state police officers at their in-house academy, this sole Camillus police recruit will go a different route, yet still satisfying the same New York State requirements to be a certified law enforcement officer.

“Members of the Camillus Police would like to introduce and welcome Officer Grace Femano.

(Photo courtesy of the Camillus Police Department.)

“Officer Femano brings her initial police training she completed from the Cazenovia Phase 1 Police Academy. Her Phase II Academy training was instructed by Camillus Police trainers over the last 5 weeks.

“Officer Femano now starts her NYS-required field training for the next 5 months before her anticipated release on her own sometime in April 2024,” a Camillus police spokesperson explained.

(Photo courtesy of the Camillus Police Department.)  

It sounds like Officer Femano received sponsorship to attend a local or regional police academy, as a pre-hired (conditional offer) recruit. What that does is generally defray the tuition costs of a police academy by an agency processing/selecting a prospective law enforcement officer, monitoring him/her throughout instruction phases, and receiving progress reports from academy figureheads.

Sponsorship is a way for aspiring cops applying to smaller agencies to procure requisite state-mandated police training leading to certification (licensure). Given the enormous undertaking and inherent costs, smaller cop shops do not operate a police academy facility like federal, state, and some county entities do. Thus, localized academies receive recruits from various agencies and congeal a class, the courses  taught by different police instructors (red shirts) from area departments.

Sponsorship is how I acquired my police training, priming me for the state police officer examination, after which I successfully secured my police certification. It took two part-time stints at two separate academies until I amassed the necessary credits to “sit for the state exam.” It was well worth doing it this way to maintain a non-sworn law enforcement position (dispatcher, then community service officer) while studying for sworn status.

Following is an excerpt from an article we published in November 2022:

Sponsorship of police cadets by law enforcement agencies is a sort of symbiotic arrangement: The police department agrees to reserve a seat at the academy for a prospective police officer, pays all tuition for that recruit, and authorizes him/her to wear the agency shoulder patch during training. In exchange, the graduated cadet agrees to serve with the sponsoring agency for a duration commensurate to satisfy all financial investments made in that sponsored individual.

As mentioned in a previous article published by the National Police Association, many community colleges own/operate a Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program whereby, upon successful vetting, police aspirants attend after paying full tuition out-of-pocket, with no guarantees they will ever secure a role at a law enforcement agency. With the severe depletion of cops nowadays, it is highly likely a vacancy awaits those who go through on their dole and endure the rigors. That circles back to our New York State Police turnout…and what it all entails to make the grade and receive a rite of passage.

As mentioned in a prior article of mine about police aspirants: “… academy cadets, no matter where they may be training, saw everything we witnessed: Public safety betrayal resulting in bedlam and destruction.

“However, none allowed chronic chaos to dissuade them from doing something about it.”

That can be said of the over 1,100 New York State Police candidates who turned out to seek the badge, along with Deputy Starr returning to service, and academy-graduate Officer Femano commencing her public safety career.

Let’s hope we are right about the police pendulum’s shift and its momentum toward brave souls stepping forward to do The Job.