NJ State Police Attracting More Diverse Recruits [AUDIO]
The New Jersey State Police is looking for a few good men and women, but they're getting an overflow reaction from trooper candidates that wasn't expected.
State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa says, "After receiving more than 12,000 online applications, it is our goal to graduate approximately 250 total troopers in the 152nd and 153rd state police classes in 2013."
He says, "We need to make sure we have a sufficient number of state troopers because the current tight economic times has put pressure on our cities and towns and their police departments- and criminals are not scaling back their threats to society because police departments are hard-pressed. While the ranks of the troopers have dwindled due to attrition, their mission has only grown. The State Police play a critical role in fighting crime and emergency response efforts - troopers fill a huge roll in connecting municipal police departments to intelligence sharing, crime trends and by providing investigative resources and tactical experience."
Chiesa adds, "During the recruitment process, representatives from the NAACP and clergy leaders stood shoulder to shoulder with us to get the word out, and those efforts have yielded much fruit…We received the most diverse group of applicants in state police history - and more than 96 hundred of them met all the qualifications…And more than 85 hundred of those qualified applicants have scheduled themselves for physical testing…nineteen percent are Hispanic, fifteen percent are African American, fourteen percent are female, three percent are Asian, and two percent listed more than one category…In every category, our diversity has improved, and I want to thank our community leaders for stepping up to help make this happen."
He says, "As one of the nation's most richly diverse states, I think it's essential that we strive to have local county and state law enforcement agencies that reflect our state's diversity…Diversity is an invaluable asset to the law enforcement mission - it can only strengthen public confidence, particularly in our urban centers."
New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes says recruits are put through difficult training that tests strength, agility and endurance,
"The applicant pool is up about 40 percent over the last time that we went through this process….and diversity applications are up 20 to 25 percent…We're looking for 250 graduates of these two classes- the 152nd and 153rd…And what that basically means is we're looking for an applicant pool, or a recruit pool to go into the academy of about 300…We do have some attrition as you might expect."
Fuentes adds after the initial phase of physical training, "The applicants take a written exam - throughout October, and that will be followed by a very intensive background investigation - that will be followed by a medical and psychological evaluation and then entry into the Academy."
He points out, "There are about 27 hundred active State Troopers right now - and the two classes that will graduate will bring the numbers up to where they need to be…Twenty-five years ago, there was a flurry of State Police classes that came through, so that was sort of the bubble of staffing that we were on. Once you hit your 25 years, you're eligible for retirement - we're seeing a lot of our commanders are doing that. We're not losing the younger members of our organization, we're losing the ranking members - which creates, indecently, great promotion opportunities for the younger members. I think these two classes will solve this problem."