MILWAUKEE — We see them on highways and interstates, keeping people safe, and right now, they are hiring. The Wisconsin State Patrol is accepting applications for its 69th recruiting class.
This year, the agency is taking a different approach in trying to attract new members. We spent time with Trooper Robert Simpson, who first joined the State Patrol in 1994. He said it was his first job and will be his last. Simpson calls himself "one of the old school guys" and that he treats everyone like "I would want to be treated."
Trooper Simpson says what he likes about his job is that he can make his day his own and that his squad is his office. Troopers take their squads home with them and have statewide jurisdiction, different than local police and sheriff's departments. And unlike what many people may think, a trooper's job is more than stopping people from driving too fast.
Simpson gave an example that if they hear about a bank robbery in Brookfield, and a warning the suspect is driving a blue Chevy Tahoe, "next thing you know, you see a blue Chevy Tahoe. We're not stopping it for a speed violation, we're stopping it because it just robbed a bank."
Sgt. Erica Ballweg-Larsen is on the State Patrol recruitment team. She says the department is looking for "self-motivated individuals."
Sgt. Ballweg-Larsen says, "It's not hard to find candidates these days but we still make sure to find good, qualified candidates to put out there for the public because we are working for the public."
The State Patrol is trying to get those candidates by standing out from the crowd.
"Our campaign this year and going forward is 'We are the Wisconsin State Patrol' and that's showing troopers and inspectors in a different light. People think troopers are robots. We are not robots. We are people, just like everybody else", according to Sgt. Ballweg-Larsen.
You don't need a law enforcement or military background, but you do need at least 60 college credits. There's also a background check, medical and psychological exams, and did I mention the physical readiness test?
The test includes six challenges, timed and counted. The challenges are a vertical jump, agility run, sit-ups, 300M run, push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run. Trooper Simpson says staying in shape is very important, even after all these years.
"Anything can happen at any minute of your shift, so if you are attacked, the best way to fend off somebody is to be in shape. And that's not just physically, that's mentally too."
The State Patrol is accepting applications for troopers and inspectors until July 16th. The expectation is to accept between 25 and 50 candidates who will then move on to the Academy for 6 months, starting in January.
Other roles in the State Patrol include pilots, k-9 officers, and fighting human trafficking. The starting pay is $25.80 an hour. If you are interested in applying, click here.