MS Highway Patrol turns to state colleges to ramp up its recruitment efforts

The state’s largest community college partnered with the Mississippi Highway Patrol to help put more officers on the roadways.
Published: Apr. 24, 2022 at 10:32 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The state’s largest community college partnered with the Mississippi Highway Patrol to help put more officers on the roadways.

It comes as law enforcement agencies all over the country struggle with staffing.

Hinds Community College follows the lead of Itawamba Community College, becoming the second school in the state to offer MHP’s Candidates on Rapid Entry, or C.O.R.E., program.

Starting this fall, criminal justice students can take part in this program and get direct entry into Highway Patrol school upon completion, according to Melissa Buie, who serves as the academic dean at HCC’s Raymond campus.

“They’ll have a curriculum designed by that trooper, and it can be things from writing tickets to handling situations on the road, car accidents, DUI, shooter simulation,” Buie said.

For two semesters, a state trooper will work with students twice a week, training them physically and mentally.

Buie said the year-long program will give candidates a leg up once they start actual trooper training, which lasts about five months.

“This is an opportunity for students who are interested in becoming troopers to have longer to familiarize themselves with the rules, the policies, and what it really means to be a Mississippi trooper,” she said.

The partnership comes just days before the Jackson Police Department’s Assistant Chief told city councilmembers that JPD would like to form similar partnerships with nearby universities.

Doing so could not only help the department fill its 98 vacancies but also bring in better recruits.

The assistant chief said a high school diploma is all that’s required to work for a police department in Mississippi.

“You are recruiting people that are going to be making life and death decisions every single day. You want a really well-rounded individual to make those crucial decisions that they have to make within a split second,” JPD Assistant Chief Joseph Wade said.

Buie said getting more well-rounded individuals to join the ranks is exactly what MHP hopes to get out of the partnership as well.

“They know that they need quality candidates to be out there on the roads, undertaking their own mission to keep our community safe and our citizens safe,” she said.

Buie said Itawamba Community College started with 27 students when it launched the C.O.R.E. program last August.

She’s hoping HCC will see similar numbers next semester.

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