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'Ready for anything': New recruits graduate Oregon State Police academy

April 1 was graduation day for 28 new Oregon State Police recruits. These men and women stepped up at a time when recruitment is down for law enforcement agencies across the board. And after 26 weeks of preparation, the recruits say they're ready for the challenges ahead. (KVAL/Hannah Kintner)

SALEM, Ore. - April 1 was graduation day for 28 new Oregon State Police recruits.

These men and women stepped up at a time when recruitment is down for law enforcement agencies across the board.

And after 26 weeks of preparation, the recruits say they're ready for the challenges ahead.

"I'm proud to be here," recruit Brittany Hanigan said, minutes before the recruits marched in to the ceremony.

The pride wasn't limited to the recruits.

Lt. Craig Flierl works as the training section lieutenant for the Oregon State Police academy.

"It's really amazing to see where they're at on day one to today, 26 weeks later," Flierl said.

Among the recruits was former Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner, who resigned that post to join the state police as the new director of the forensics division for Oregon State Police

"The physical challenges are extraordinary for a guy my age, and I feel good that I met them as well as I did," Gardner said with a smile. "I can't begin to tell you how miserable parts of the process were, so it just feels good to have it behind me."

Now the recruits are looking ahead, ready to overcome obstacles and put their training to work.

Gardner said the job is going to be challenging.

"You know the way the public has been led to believe law enforcement is functioning is so different from the way we actually do business."

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He said one of the most challenging parts of the job will be maintaining transparency.

"And that people understand what we're really doing, and how well we're really doing it," Gardner said. "That's not to say that we don't have room for improvement. There are always opportunities, there are always those and we work to find those."

Gardner said he thinks the public would be surprised by the intensity of training and the amount of time spent on things people care about most.

"I mean, there's tremendous emphasis on professionalism, treating people fairly, treating people with respect, being patient in the face of really some terrible behavior that's directed towards us," he said.

Lt. Flierl said that adapting to changing times, the academy has focused more attention on communication training and working with people in mental crisis situations.

"Every day is going to present a new challenge," Hanigan said. "So you just have to be willing to be diverse in your skills and be ready for anything."

Gardner and Hanigan were both stand out recruits at graduation.

Gardner was the class speaker and received the leadership award for his class, while Brittany Hanigan received an award for academic excellence.

HONORS

Gardner and Hanigan were both stand out recruits at graduation.

Gardner was the class speaker and received the leadership award for his class, while Brittany Hanigan received an award for academic excellence.

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The recruits will be assigned to the state in the following divisions and geographic locations, according to State Police

Albany Area Command -- 1 Patrol

Astoria Area Command -- 1 Fish & Wildlife

Burns Worksite -- 2 Patrol

Central Point Area Command -- 2 Patrol

Coos Bay Area Command -- 1 Fish & Wildlife

General Headquarters -- 1 Forensic Services

Gold Beach Worksite -- 1 Patrol

Grants Pass Area Command -- 2 Patrol

John Day Worksite -- 1 Patrol

La Grande Area Command -- 1 Patrol

Newport Area Command -- 2 Patrol

Ontario Area Command -- 2 Patrol

Pendleton Patrol -- 1 Patrol

Portland Area Command -- 2 Patrol

Roseburg Area Command -- 1 Patrol

Salem Area Command -- 2 Patrol

Springfield Area Command -- 3 Patrol

St. Helens Worksite -- 1 Patrol

Tillamook Worksite -- 1 F&W

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