- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2016

ATLANTA (AP) - More than 2,700 men and women applied to become Georgia state troopers last year, but only 30 passed a variety of evaluations and completed the necessary training to join the force.

The last complete training session lasted 18 weeks.

Many of the cadets washed out in the first week of training, with a few leaving during the first hours of the first day, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (bit.ly/1UlRDus).

Several cadets quit during training because they were not physically fit to continue, said Capt. Scott Woodell, director of the Georgia State Patrol’s academy in Forsyth.

“They didn’t take us serious. They don’t have the heart and they just quit,” he said.



Twenty years ago, Woodell added, nearly everyone who began trooper school finished.

“Quitting was not an option,” he said. “You just didn’t think about it.”

The difficulty in finding suitable candidates for the agency is also a nationwide law enforcement problem, State Patrol Col. Mark McDonough said.

“The pool of people that want to get into law enforcement, all aspects of law enforcement, is shrinking rapidly,” McDonough said. “It’s a reflection of a different generation and a reflection of a snapshot of where we are.”

In recent years, the Georgia State Patrol has been so short-staffed that there are not enough troopers to patrol the roads 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in two-thirds of the state. The staffing issue also has meant the State Patrol is unable to respond to thousands of wrecks each year, state documents showed.

The starting pay - $35,741 - has also been cited by some as a reason for the trooper shortage.

The Atlanta newspaper examined records from the most recent complete training session, which ended in March.

Of 2,738 people who applied last year, only 485 made it through that initial evaluation, the records show. In the next phase, half of that 485 were disqualified after failing the criminal background check. Another 25 percent couldn’t meet the fitness requirements. The rest were cut because they failed either the medical or psychological exam.

That meant that when trooper school began on Aug. 9, 2015, only 42 of the original 2,738 applicants were there.

“They don’t like the idea of people yelling at them,” Woodell said. “The first four weeks, they’re captive 24-7. They don’t get to go home. They get to call home twice during those four weeks. They can’t watch TV. They can’t read newspapers. They can’t do anything but train. It’s a culture shock.”

The graduating class on March 18, after finishing weeks of field training after the academy, had only 30 members.

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