More than 100 recruits became New York State Troopers just last month. But, Eyewitness News Reporter Jennifer Lee explains why officials say graduation has been uncommon in recent years.
"I kind of just put everything on the backburner, hoping one day the Troopers would call me," said Trooper Laura Lenhard.
At the beginning of the year Trooper Lenhard heard from the New York State Police that she could join the academy. A phone call she says she had been waiting for quite some time.
"It was a waiting game. I decided to find a different career path in the meantime. Was working somewhere, really liked it. But, this came about and I took it," said Lenhard.
Four years after the 27-year-old took the competitive exam she finally went to the Academy and graduated in October this year. This was the first graduating class since 2009.
Captain Francis Coots says this has been the longest time span without hiring someone in his career working for the State Police.
He says due to budget cuts within the state, there were hiring freezes for state agencies.
Capt. Coots says they were expected to do more with less and it was more difficult to move up the ladder.
"People that were up-ly mobile whether in the investigatory ranks or commission officer ranks. We did slowdown in that. And the promotions and the appointments that we did make were fewer than in the past because we didn't want to take away from the road," said Capt. Coots.
But, with the recent graduating class and another class starting again at the end of the month, Capt. Coots says the ranks that have been open will begin to fill up.
Before the new Troopers start patrolling on their own, they must go through a ten week supervised field training program, which Trooper Lenhard is currently doing.
"I am stationed in Herkimer. There are so many different avenues. You can become an investigator. You can do all types of things. I am not sure where I want to go yet. I just want to learn my trooper role first," said Lenhard.
Trooper Lenhard's training ends at the beginning of New Year. Then for the next four years she will be patrolling the roads, answering complaints, helping drivers and issuing tickets.