NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut State Police have added 35 new troopers to its ranks.
The 133rd training troop’s graduation was held on Thursday at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.
The perseverance and passion in the state’s newest troopers is something Mitchell Montano seems to have been born with.
“A traffic stop and he was 4-years-old sitting in the back and said, ‘Dad, that’s what I want to do,'” said Jason Montano, Trooper Mitchell Montano’s father.
His mother, Susan Montano, said that her son was telling them all the illegal infractions they’d been doing since he was a little boy.
“His determination is unwavering,” she said. “Like a calling.”
The 20-year-old was elected class speaker, sharing stories of comradery with the 34 other recruits during their 28 weeks of training. He will join Troop B in Canaan.
“My answer was always the same, that one day I’d be standing here on this stage,” Mitchell Montano said. “I’ve always wanted to be a protector and serve my community.”
Other graduates made the decision later in life.
For Brain Sappleton, the decision was made after his deployment in Iraq and a heart-to-heart with family.
“I was having a bourbon and a cigar with my uncle, and he said, ‘Hey you should try for state police,” Sappleton said.
Gov. Ned Lamont was on hand to congratulate Sappleton and the other troopers.
“Whatever it takes,” Lamont said. “Maybe your uncle could help us to keep recruiting.”
The State Police Union said a typical class sees around 80 graduates. The 35 Thursday reflects a nation-wide issue with recruitment and retention, according to the union.
“It’s definitely a challenge to recruit,” Connecticut State Police Lt. Kate Cummings said.
In December, officials came to an agreement on a new contract changing the starting salary for academy-trained officers from $50,000 to $73,000.
“We’re well-trained, we’re well-educated and in return we are well- compensated,” Cummings said. “We’re hoping to see a lot of new applicants this coming summer.”
The 134th troop training will begin June 1. Recruiting for the next class will last through mid-July.