What It Takes To Join the State Police, in Every State

Other than Hawaii, every U.S. state has a state police force. Although there is some variance, state troopers in each state perform basically the same tasks. 

State troopers are tasked with enforcing traffic laws on state-controlled roads and highways. They give first aid to victims of vehicle accidents, provide backup support to local, county, and federal law enforcement agencies, and oversee road closures during evacuations, serious  weather conditions, and vehicle crashes. State troopers have arrest powers and carry firearms. 

In every state, a state trooper candidate with a felony conviction is disqualified from consideration. (Here are the most militarized local police departments in America and the equipment they own.)

To find out what is required to join the state police, 24/7 Wall St. drew on information from the website of each state’s police force. These sites provided information on qualifications and the recruitment process as well as disqualifiers for getting the state trooper job.

Some state police forces have colorful histories, such as the Texas Rangers, created as a paramilitary force charged with protecting settlers from possible attacks by Native Americans in the 19th century. Many other state police were created as a strikebreaking force — often a controversial role opposed by many who viewed this as the state siding with employers. 

As America’s highways grew, especially after the interstate highway system expanded beginning in the 1950s, the task of overseeing those roads fell on state troopers.

Still, like all law enforcement agencies today, state troopers find it hard to fill jobs and hire recruits. Scandals such as the recent audit in Connecticut that found that state police troopers falsified information on traffic stops to skew reports on the race and ethnicity of pulled-over motorists, or the one that found that 82% of the people charged with misdemeanors by state troopers in a county in Texas were Black or Latino, do not help recruitment causes. (Also see, every state’s police department that has killed the most people.)

For those interested, all state police forces today require candidates to have at least a high school diploma or GED, with a few requiring some college education. Candidates must also undergo medical and physical evaluations, including, in most states, a physical fitness test.

Click here to see what’s required to join the state police, in every state.

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