|Story & photos by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff
The first class of Wisconsin State Patrol recruits since 2008 now is
training at the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy at Fort McCoy. The State
Patrol Academy is the oldest tenant activity at Fort McCoy, first
opening its doors here in 1955.
Sgt. Tony Green, program director for Class 58, said the class is
welcome because the State Patrol currently has many personnel nearing
retirement age. The 38 cadets, who include four females, was selected
from a field of nearly 1,000 applicants and will train at Fort McCoy
through March 2012.
Recruits in a Wisconsin State
Patrol trooper/inspector class practice falling techniques
during a defense and arrest tactics course at the State Patrol
Academy. The recruits are in a 22-week course to become State
Recruits have a busy, structured schedule. Green said they live at
the State Patrol Academy from Monday through Friday during the
22-week training program.
“The recruits are taught how to do things until it’s second nature,”
Green said. “That way they’ll learn to do the right things in a
They go through daily inspections of their appearance and rooms.
Training includes physical and mental exercises and a heavy dose of
computer training. Much like Soldiers train in their specialties,
recruits in a trooper/inspector course at the Wisconsin State Patrol
Academy at Fort McCoy are taught that paying attention to detail
helps them do their jobs well and could save their lives, Green
said. Several recruits have a military background.
“They do everything with their computers,” Green said. “The days
when troopers wrote out a citation or warning by hand are nearly
gone. These days, they go back to their vehicles, type it into their
computers and print it out. The vehicle serves as their office.”
After their regular day, the cadets remain busy — ensuring their
rooms are squared away, their appearance meets standards, their high
level of physical fitness is maintained, they are prepared for the
next class or test, etc., he said.
Class attendees are from a variety of backgrounds. The class
represents seven states, including Wisconsin, and one cadet is from
Canada. All recruits must have 60 post-secondary-level credits from
an accredited college. Some of the cadets have law-enforcement
backgrounds although it isn’t required.
A member of State Patrol Class 58
fires a 9 mm pistol at a Fort McCoy range.
Recruit Terry Garrett of Milwaukee said he applied for the class
because it was something he wanted to do since a young age.
“I was waiting for the opportunity to apply since the last class in
2008,” Garrett said. “In the meantime, I did what I could to get
ready by getting the 60 college-level credits you need and a
Garrett was in the Army from 1996-2002 and his experience was in
construction and as a vehicle mechanic.
“Going through this training is very similar to being in the Army,”
Garrett said. “That’s why I’m taking it.”
Recruit Jennifer Latzig of Merrill, Wis., formerly worked as a
dispatcher for the State Patrol in Police Communications Operations
and saw taking the course as a means for career advancement.
“I’ve wanted to do this, and later in my college career, I took some
corrections and law-enforcement courses as I was studying for a
sociology degree,” Latzig said. “I became a dispatcher, which helped
me learn the police jargon and what to expect from the State
So far in the training curriculum, Latzig said she enjoys the
firearms training, and the defense and arrest tactics. She also
likes the interaction with other students.
Recruit Bradley Bires of Mauston said he served in the Marine Corps
for eight years as a police officer. Before being accepted for the
course, he worked as a part-time police officer and jailer.
“I’m a hands-on person, and I learn better when I can interact with
the students and instructors and do things,” Bires said. “This is
similar to the Marine Corps boot camp and is helping to prepare me.
It’s more military in structure and with more people than the
smaller organizations I was working for has a chance for better
All three said being in a class and going through the training with
others will help them develop friendships with classmates, who also
will serve as their peers and good resource personnel in the field
in the future.
The State Patrol work force, including the academy staff, puts in
long hours to ensure the cadets successfully complete the training,
Green said. Many bring their experience from the field to the class.
Two assistant training officers (ATOs) come directly from the field
to support each class. Both ATOs volunteer for the duty and live at
the academy so they are away from their Families for the duration of
the training, Green said.
“They serve as mentors to the cadets,” he said. “Anytime the cadets
do something, they have to report to the ATOs.”
Carrie Johnson, one of the ATOs, works as a trooper in Dunn County
(Menomonie) and has been with the State Patrol for 17 years. She was
a member of Class 44 in 1994. This is her second ATO tour as she
worked with Class 54 in 2004.
“This is a good taste of being in middle management for me,” Johnson
said. “I’m not a sergeant, but I learn how to be a sergeant,
prioritize what needs to be done, get the paperwork done and teach
them how to work as a team.”
ATOs are available to help class members after hours, get them to
the correct places on time and participate in the physical fitness
Johnson said the ATOs also share their experiences with the
Although starting the class this late in the year means that much of
the outdoor work will be done when it’s cold outside, Johnson said,
“Troopers and inspectors don’t stop working outside when it’s cold
so this will help them get used to the preparation they will need to
do to work in cold weather.”
Recruits will compete in class room, fire arms and physical-fitness
training throughout the course, as well.
Johnson said how well they do and their class standing will help
determine their future assignments.