The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has seen a significant increase in the number of applicants, which department officials attribute to the passage of two bills during the 2014 legislative session.
One bill, in particular, has given both active and would-be troopers a boost of confidence. Senate Bill 232 gave a pay increase to troopers, something that hasn’t happened since 2007.
Another, Senate Bill 1372, removed language from the statute requiring applicants to have a college degree and instead allows the patrol to hire troopers with at least 32 credit hours and an honorable discharge from the military. Those applicants can also count each year of military service as 10 credit hours.
Those two bills allowed the highway patrol to compete against other state departments, fire stations, and private industries for good candidates,” said Chief Ricky Adams, who called the bills a godsend.
“To be competitive to try to get out and get these people to come in the door is extremely important,” Adams said. “Basically, these two bills put us back in the game.”
The change to college requirements brought in several applications from veterans, who may have been very qualified to serve as a trooper but did not have the degree necessary to get into the academy.
“It really increased our pull of folks that we could take a peek at,” Howell said. “And, these are the guys that really have the skill set that we need coming in the door.”
Adams said after the bills passed they saw a spike in applications, which pushed them past their goal of 800 candidates for trooper academy, the most they have received since 2006. Adams said in April, before the bills went into effect, they had received fewer than 300 applications.
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