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Associated Press
Cadets line up Friday before their graduation at the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s academy in Columbus. Two overlapping classes graduated Friday.

Ohio State Patrol beefs up

2 graduations to put force at 1,600 officers

– The State Highway Patrol has graduated the first of two overlapping classes of cadets in a move expected to beef up a personnel roster that dwindled in recent years as the agency’s cadet classes failed to keep pace with attrition.

Eighty-one cadets donning gray and black dress uniforms graduated in the 153rd class Friday, believed to be the largest in the patrol’s 80-year history. More new troopers will graduate April 5 with the 154th class, which has 64 members.

Their addition is expected to bump up staffing to around 1,600 sworn officers, a level the patrol hasn’t seen since 2006. That will mean troopers can do more proactive work, rather than being limited to a reactive role because of smaller staff sizes, said Col. John Born, the patrol’s superintendent.

“You start just getting into a reactive mode, so you’re not able to prevent crashes, you’re more responding to crashes,” he said. “So what this class will do is help us recover from that.”

The patrol ended up short-staffed because it didn’t graduate any cadets in 2008 or 2010 and was losing about 60 people annually, mostly through attrition, spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston said. The number of troopers, she said, at times dropped to “critical levels,” when posts operated at minimum staffing and some didn’t have night shifts.

The newest troopers will be added to 37 of Ohio’s 57 patrol posts to increase staffing to what the patrol considers appropriate levels, typically about a dozen officers to have three shifts at a post, Ralston said. The troopers report to their new posts Saturday to begin field training guided by veteran officers.

The training is seen as an investment for the patrol and its $300 million-plus annual operation. It costs roughly $38,000 per cadet, which includes each cadet’s pay and benefits during training and expenses such as outfits, meals and ammunition, Ralston said.