Michigan State Police aggressively pursue qualified new recruits

MSP search for new faces to join force

DETROIT – A lifelong dream was realized for a 44-year-old Grand Blanc man when he stopped at a Michigan State Police booth at a job fair at Rochester College.

Donzell Humphrey was earning his bachelor's degree in business administration at Rochester College when he spoke to the state police recruiter. He also works in corrections for the Oakland County Sheriff's Department.

He thinks his age and experience will help make him a good state trooper.

"I would say so just based on experience, life experience of things that I've been through and things that I’ve witnessed," Humphrey said.

His goal is to one day become a sergeant or higher rank in the Michigan State Police Department.

Humphrey is one of recruits in the 135th recruit school at the Michigan State Police training academy in Dimondale.

The Michigan State Police Department was challenged to find diverse, qualified recruits for this school.

Capt. Monica Yesh spent the past 10 months in recruitment. She said they were challenged to find diverse qualified candidates interested in becoming Michigan State Police officers. They put full-time recruiters in the field, made new community partnerships including with the Black Caucus Foundation and America Corps, and even went to churches asking them to recommend candidates.

Yesh is proud of the class they put together for the 135th school.

"We have about 38 percent of this class diverse candidates. And when we talk about diversity, I'm not talking about just a color of a skin or the gender. I'm talking about what they bring in, whether it's someone who is a teacher or someone who's a prior police officer or someone who was a veteran or someone who grew up up north or someone who grew up down south or people with a college education," Yesh said.

Among the recruits are 25 women, the largest number of women recruits in nearly 20 years.

"We've ran a number of women seminars across the state, more specifically in Detroit. We see women coming in and we want to explain to them, 'You can do this,'" Yesh said.

Recruit Conner Grostefoon, 21, of Battle Creek, decided she wanted to be a state trooper at age 16 after having a high school class with a teacher who was a retired state trooper. She went to college at Central Michigan University and earned a double major in psychology and sociology and a minor in substance abuse before applying for Michigan State Police.

"I'd really like to end up somewhere in the behavioral sciences department, or somewhere I can counsel first responders or work with the community in that way," Grostefoon said.

Shakera Harris-Savage, 22, asked to go on a ride-along this past summer to help make her decision to join the academy.

"I wanted to see their duties on patrol and get a better insight as to what to expect and to make sure this is what I really wanted to do," Harris-Savage said. "Seeing the trooper being assertive and bold communicating really influenced me."

The Southfield native earned her criminal justice degree at Ferris State University. She is interested in becoming a community police officer or working in the fugitive division.

Recruits who spoke with Local 4 said it was important that officers represent the communities they protect and defend.

"If you look at the way America is now, it's a multitude of nationalities. I think it's important for that reason that way because you can have people that can relate better than some," Humphrey said.

"It's important to have diversity because we need to be reflective of the communities in which we serve. And people tend to trust you more if they understand you and they know you. So they like to see people like them and I think that that can help build trust within our communities which is so important in today's society is to have that trust with law enforcement and the citizens that we serve," Yesh said.

Jacob Choice, 26, grew up in law enforcement with both his father and brother members of the Detroit Police Department. He knew he wanted to be a police officer, then a tragedy in his family made him want to become a Michigan State Police officer.

"Back in 2010, I had an encounter with Michigan State Police. Me and my father were in a fatal car accident and the two troopers that came to our aid really had a big impact on me," Choice said. "Maybe I can have the same impact as those two troopers had on me."

Recruits are in their second week of the 26-week academy. They live at the training academy Sunday through Friday, waking up at 5 a.m. with lights out at 10 p.m.

Michigan State Police pays for the recruits to attend the academy, training includes teaching in "criminal law, patrol techniques, defensive tactics, ethics, cultural diversity and implicit bias, first aid, report writing, firearms, water safety, crime scene processing and precision driving."

Graduation day is April 3, 2019.

Yesh said about 80 percent of recruits make it to graduation. One reason some recruits said they don't make it is because they felt unprepared for the training. This year, the department held pre-recruit days and invited people who had received conditional offers to the academy.

The potential recruits were given a taste of the academy including physical fitness tests, time in the swimming tank and classroom expectations. They were sent home with report cards on what they might need to work on before starting recruit school.

Michigan State Police said it's redoubling recruiting efforts to find candidates for upcoming recruit schools. This includes new videos they will be releasing on social media. The first video was released this week on Facebook and YouTube:

To be a Michigan State Police officer, you must be 21 at the time of recruit school graduation, have a GED or high school diploma and show a pattern of fiscal responsibility. A college education is not required, but recommended. To see all the requirements, click here.

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