TRENTON – New Jersey will use federal pandemic recovery funds to add a second class of new State Police troopers in the upcoming budget year, Gov. Phil Murphy will announce today.

The proposed state budget included $4.5 million for the 164th state trooper recruit class. In an 11 a.m. event at the Regional Operations Intelligence Center in Ewing, Murphy will announce the second recruit class, partly paid for through money from the federal American Rescue Plan. He'll be joined by acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin and State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan.

The state says more than 100 enlisted State Police troopers are eligible to retire by October and an additional 108 become eligible in 2023 and that two classes will help maintain staffing levels.

The 164th recruit class will start at the academy in Sea Girt in September and the 165th class will start next February.

In remarks prepared for delivery, Murphy says the two classes in fiscal 2023 “will ensure the troop ranks necessary for the New Jersey State Police to fulfill its responsibilities,” ranging from crime prevention to disaster response to being the provider of police services in 89 rural municipalities and more.

“The State Police currently counts a total of 3,020 enlisted troopers in its ranks,” Murphy plans to say. “Yet to meet the demands put upon the division – especially in light of the significant demands necessitated by our COVID response and increased need for law enforcement stemming from the pandemic – this count should exceed 3,100.”

The State Police are aiming for 200 to 215 candidates entering the academy for each class, which will typically yield around 150 troopers per class at the completion of the training.

The state intends to use $4 million in federal State Fiscal Recovery Fund money from the American Rescue Plan legislation to partly fund the additional class. It would also require adding $5 million more to the budget plan, on top of the existing $4.5 million, to pay for the salaries of the additional troopers.

“With these two classes, we can ensure that this level is met given our increased emergency response needs over the past several years, as well as anticipated attrition due to retirements or other separations from service,” Murphy plans to say.

“We can ensure a State Police force that better mirrors our state’s diversity,” he plans to say. “And with these new troopers, we can ensure the high level of service that New Jerseyans have come to expect from the New Jersey State Police.”

According to budget documents produced last month, when one recruiting class in the coming year had been announced, the State Police anticipated ending fiscal 2022 this June with 3,004 troopers and ending fiscal 2023 with 3,059 troopers.

The force had 2,762 troopers as of mid-2020, according to budget documents.

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The proposed state budget anticipates reducing state spending by nearly $33.5 million by shifting some cost for State Police to non-state funds.

The proposed state budget also includes $6.25 million for State Police vehicles.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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