CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin stopped by the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute to welcome 21 new cadets to the 25-week training program.
The academy's 63rd cadet class represents 17 West Virginia counties, as well as the states of Pennsylvania and Virginia.
During his visit Monday, Tomblin thanked the cadets for their commitment to the program.
"We value your commitment and I thank you for dedicating yourself to protecting and serving our families, hometowns and our state," Tomblin said. "Over the next 25 weeks, the men and women of this elite State Police will be training you. Capt. David Lee and his staff will push you and will be challenging you physically and mentally. When you think you're ready to give up, please know that you can do it."
The cadets were chosen from a pool of nearly 500 applicants following a lengthy application process that included a written examination, oral interview, physical suitability test, psychological testing and a background investigation.
"You've been chosen to be here . . . to become a member of the highest regard of police force in the state of West Virginia," Tomblin said. "Hundreds of thousands of people will rely on you in your role as a state trooper. You must earn this title and the respect that comes with it."
"My advice to each of you is to lean on one another, trust and support one another. In a matter of weeks, this extended law enforcement family will become part of your family."
The cadets repeated an oath read by Tomblin. The governor said he is looking forward to the day he can call them troopers and congratulate them at their graduation ceremony in the spring.
Col. Jay Smithers, superintendent of the West Virginia State Police, said the next 25 weeks will involve about 1,300 classroom hours and skills-type training.
"Everything from A to Z in the law enforcement world will be taught," Smithers said. "The cadets will learn everything from forensics, first aid, computer science, driving instruction, firearm safety, self-defense and crime scene investigation."
Smithers said the application process is extensive and takes months to complete.
He said the agency's board has to make sure applicants are eligible before moving forward. Once applicants are deemed eligible, they have to undergo a slew of tests to make sure they are fit for the academy.
The physical suitability test involves a 1.5-mile run, push-ups and sit-ups. Modified stress inoculation training will test the cadets' stress limitations.
"We will be inducing stress during training because working in law enforcement is stressful in nature," Smithers said.
The background investigation goes beyond the individual's criminal history. It also looks into the individual's family, financial and employment history.