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Pennsylvania State Police say more cadets ‘are out there’

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(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania State Police said the surge in cadet applications last year brought in 175 new officers and dropped vacancies into the double digits for the first time in nearly three decades.

Although recent retirements pushed that number to just under 240, Police Commissioner Christopher Paris said the 158% increase in recruitment will fill the gap.

“I’m encouraged by the cadets that I see in the academy,” he told the House Appropriations Committee on Monday. “I believe there are people out there who want to become Pennsylvania state troopers … we shall continue to endeavor to look for them because I really think they are out there.”

The agency’s request to raise its 4,310-complement cap by 100 reflects Paris’ confidence. It would be the first time doing so since 2002.

After Gov. Josh Shapiro nixed the 60 college credit requirement for troopers in August, state police had a 258% increase in candidates taking the written exam.

The college requirement, which has been in force since the 1990s, put troopers in the small minority of state jobs with college education as a barrier for entry. According to Shapiro, 92% – or more than 65,000 – of state jobs are accessible to those without a degree, a critical issue as the state faces widespread staffing shortages and low college enrollment.

Troopers receive a base pay of $66,911, a salary Paris has previously referred to as “an instant ticket to the middle class” and one that can be a night and day difference for low-income families struggling to find their footing in the tumultuous postpandemic economy.