Eighty new recruits crossed the stage of the Century High School Auditorium in Sykesville, Md. on July 13 as the largest-ever graduating class in the Maryland State Police’s 91-year history.

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D), an Iraq War veteran, was the keynote speaker and praised the graduates for their commitment to service.

“Today, you will take an oath to protect all Marylanders in every corner of our state,” he said, according to his prepared speech. “Once you’ve taken that oath, you will never stop being a state trooper. When you’re not wearing your uniform, when you’re with your family, or even when you’re just out running errands in your neighborhood.”

“And one day, when you retire, you will still be a trooper,” he added. “Because this isn’t a job – it’s who you are, and from today onward, it’s who you will always be.”

Included in the 138th Trooper Candidate Class were 16 military veterans, including a 42-year-old retiree who is the oldest member of the class.

Leading up to the ceremony, the graduates survived 26 weeks of rigorous training at the Maryland State Police Academy in Sykesville. And in the days ahead, they will undergo eight weeks of additional training with a field training trooper before they can patrol alone.

Brown acknowledged the difficult and often thankless job the graduates face. He said the state government was doing what it could to make that job easier, including investing $52.5 million in new helicopters; implementing Maryland FIRST, a new and improved statewide radio system for all first responders; and spending $29.5 million on a Computer Assisted Dispatch and Records Management System, which gives authorities immediate access to criminal data records and acts as a depository for information to be shared across agencies and state and local emergency response teams.

“As you protect us, we will continue to support you, in each and every way possible,” Brown said.

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO