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Ask a Trooper: Lessons Learned in Recruit School Save Lives, Solve Crimes, Give Justice

The following article was written by Michigan State Trooper Mike Sura, who answers questions about Michigan law in a weekly column.

Trooper Michael Sura, of the Michigan State Police – Brighton Post. Credit: Michigan State Police
Trooper Michael Sura, of the Michigan State Police – Brighton Post. Credit: Michigan State Police

In January of 1964, the 53rd Michigan State Police Trooper Recruit School graduated 39 new Troopers.  They spent a total of 13 weeks training to become Michigan State Troopers.  I do not know how many actually started the school but not everyone graduated. My father was one of the graduating members and even though it was only 13 weeks he swears it was the last hard recruit school.  

On Sunday, Jan. 5, 115 Potential Troopers lined up in a snow storm at the Michigan State Police Training Academy with the determination to become Troopers.  This is 126th time men and women of the State of Michigan have done this.  Over the next 21 weeks these people will be put to the test both mentally and physically.  They will study law, firearms, driving, defensive tactics, patrols, boxing, swimming, and report writing.  They will put in over 1,000 hours of training to become the Troopers you expect to have serving you for the future.

A typical day for a recruit will begin with “Revelry” sounding over the speakers of the academy at 5 a.m.  They will then have 30 minutes to get dressed in the preferred training attire for the morning workout, clean rooms, the floor, and get lined up in alphabetical order in the stairwell.  Once lined up they will march to the gymnasium where they will begin their workout.  After morning workout the recruits run back to their rooms where they shower and change into the recruit uniforms and are lined back up in the stairwell to march for morning “chow”.  They will have another 20 minutes to eat and then back to their rooms to prep for a morning inspection conducted by staff at the academy.  Inspection begins at 8 a.m. sharp and is completed by 8:15.  From there the recruits again line up for morning classes.  The recruits will for the next eight hours study and train to become a Michigan State Police Trooper with an hour for afternoon “chow”.  The day does not end though at 5 p.m.  After the evening meal is finished, the recruits continue to study for tests and prep their uniforms for the next day.  They do not watch television, listen to the radio, or settle in early to get some rest.  They work until 10 p.m. when “Taps” is played signaling the end of the day.  The recruits are then in bed and lights out.  The recruits work hard because weekly they are evaluated.  If they fail a test or a training exercise they can and may be dismissed from the school.   

One of the highlights of the recruit school is our swim program.  The first thing the recruits learn is that a pool is for fun, we train in a tank.  The recruits learn proper swimming, water safety, and rescue techniques.  The recruits will sit in ice and learn how the body reacts to extreme cold water.  They will also learn on how to pull themselves out of water in icy conditions if they were to fall through the ice.  The recruits complete this training with a final swim where they are expected to apply all they know in an effort to rescue a person drowning.  This is an intense exercise and is very challenging.  Recruits entering the school often talk about the swim program even before they walk through the doors for the first time. 

Becoming a Trooper is not an easy task and there are many victories and failures during the process.  Some will not finish the school.  We train hard, practice, and practice some more because we want to give the State of Michigan the very best in service.  The lessons learned in recruit school will save lives, solve crimes, and give justice to those seeking it.  The length of academy may have changed but the desire to be a Trooper for all the recruits who have walked in the doors of the Michigan State Police Training Academy remains the same.

If you have a questions or comments please email them to askatrooper12@gmail.com, or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police – Brighton Post, 4337 Buno Road, Brighton, MI  48116.

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