Law enforcement application rates lag across country, North Dakota also sees trend
BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Troopers in North Dakota hit the roads to keep people safe. That’s why they say recruiting and training capable people is important.
The NDHP organization started with five troopers in 1935-1936 with approval from the Legislative Assembly. The agency has grown as the population has increased.
“There’s always a fluctuation in any industry and it’s no different with law enforcement,” said Sgt. Wade Kadrmas, North Dakota Highway Patrol public information officer.
Already this year, the 159 sworn North Dakota Highway Patrol troopers have made 385 DUI arrests. That’s compared to the 1,015 made in all of 2021. They also participate in interdiction efforts, traffic safety efforts and accident response, and aerial searches and pursuits. They patrol the state’s 70,761 square miles.
This is similar to South Dakota’s Highway Patrol, which started in 1935 with ten men who were provided with a car, tow chain, first aid kit, and a gallon of gasoline. Now, their 197 members are hard at work patrolling South Dakota’s 77,116 square miles of roadway, according to their government website.
“Our goal is to keep people safe. And that’s what we do. We do it through education and enforcement,” said Tony Mangen, South Dakota Highway Patrol public information officer.
Law enforcement agencies across the country have seen declines in applicants in recent years. This year, 86 applications were submitted and 64 people made it to testing for NDHP.
“I’ve been on the patrol for about 15 years, and I think that’s a huge decrease from when I came on the patrol to now,” said Sgt. Kadrmas, who competed against around 300 applicants for a position.
A national survey from June of 2021 found that departments across the country on average were filling 93% of budgeted positions available and resignations increased by 18%. Officers say a number of factors like hesitancy to join, location and the pandemic likely contribute to these statistics.
Despite declines in applications, law enforcement presence on the roadways remains high and troopers say it will continue to remain high.
“We make sure we have a presence around the state on highways, especially interstates, you know, every day,” said Mangen.
Troopers say the job is worthwhile.
“The best part, and this is just for me, the ability to get out there on the open road. Whether it’s just a sunny day here in North Dakota, driving across the highway, seeing the beautiful countryside. That’s what drew me to the patrol, and obviously serving the community,” said Sgt. Kadrmas.
The agency continues to train new recruits to make sure they meet high standards.
To become a trooper, there are necessary education and testing requirements, and a lengthy interview and training process that individuals must complete. This year, the North Dakota Highway Patrol also signed a 30 by 30 initiative to increase the representation of women in law enforcement to 30% by 2030. To learn more, visit: Apply today (nd.gov).
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