SALEM (AP) — Twenty-three newly hired Oregon State Police recruits have been sworn in as the agency aims to replace retiring troopers.
The class of trainees consists of 22 men and one woman, the first troopers to be hired since September 2011, the Salem Statesman Journal reported.
The class is scheduled to graduate in August, and the agency hopes to hire another class as soon as this summer to fill the vacancies of retiring troopers.
State Police ranks have fluctuated with budget hits in recent years. In 2011, Gov. John Kitzhaber ordered agencies to freeze hiring with few exceptions for essential personnel.
Since the beginning of 2003, the police said Monday, the trooper and sergeant positions for patrol are down about 8 percent, to 350, while the state’s population is up about 9 percent.
The hiring freeze combined with several years of decline in police recruiting around the state led the State Police to lay off 40 employees from the Public Safety Academy and rent out its vacant office space to other agencies in April 2012.
But in September, the agency announced it would begin recruiting new hires.
In January, the agency released a statement saying it hoped to fill 40 vacant positions by the end of 2013.
On Sunday, the new class faced their families and loved ones from a stage at the academy, backs straight, hands on their laps, as Superintendent Rich Evans greeted the audience of family members.
He said the recruits have a long road of training ahead. Sunday was the second day of the 26-week training process.
“They’re going to be paying attention to detail, they’re going to be doing push-ups, they’re going to work as a team,” he said.
The class was whittled from 800 applicants, Evans said.
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.