OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure to help get more public safety officers on the streets was signed into law Tuesday. The new bill will lower the age limit for commissioned officers within the Department of Public Safety from 23 to 21 years of age and provide educational credits to those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
“I was honored to get to work on this bill at the request of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol,” said Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate. “By granting honorably discharged veterans thirty college credit hours for their military service, the OHP Associate’s degree requirement will be more manageable. Not only will this change result in more OHP candidates to choose from, but it will also mean those possessing sought-after military skills will have more employment opportunities as well.”
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Captain Randy Rogers said that there are currently 777 OHP troopers but the agency’s optimal goal is 950.
“We have been struggling to recruit highly qualified candidates because of our education requirements, age qualifications and benefits packages. Candidates have 24 better options for employment in law enforcement around the state. We must work to become more competitive in the job market,” said Rogers. “This bill will allow those younger men and women who have a desire to serve their state to have that opportunity as well as honor the military service of others when considering applications. This will help us be more competitive with other law enforcement agencies around the state and provide better service.”
SB 1372 also modifies the number of hours of accredited college or university experience to include military service. Applicants can use up to three years of military service (10 credit hours per year of service) to count a total of 30 hours towards the education requirement.
“I applaud the governor for signing Senate Bill 1372 into law. This is a vital measure for the safety of Oklahomans,” said Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City. “Right now, we have a small pool of candidates for important positions within DPS. That’s almost entirely because our current listed qualifications for becoming a state trooper are too narrow and constricting. This measure will create a wider pool from which to hire so we can keep Oklahomans safe on the roads and in their communities.”
Once the bill is signed into law, applicants for the OHP must:
be 21 to 46 years of age
have an Associate’s degree; 62 hours from an accredited college; or a combination of 32 college credit hours and three years of honorable active or reserve military service (counts as 30 credit hours) for a total of 62 credit hours
The agency is currently seeking applications for the 63rd Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy. For applications or to learn more, visit www.ohptroopers.com/.
The new law will go into effect July 1, 2014.