Help wanted: More female state troopers

CAMDEN-WYOMING — Strength and size may affect a physical confrontation with a suspect, but training matters far more.

With properly applied, academy-learned techniques, Delaware State Police believe, significant advantage goes to any trooper no matter their gender.

Female troopers are quite capable of subduing a combative force, their male counterparts say, and have when needed,

The first contact goal is to avoid roughness through calming techniques and communication, and Verbal Judo (thinking and talking), along with understanding the possible mental and/or chemically altered state of contacts.

“There’s a lot of common sense that goes with it,” Detective Kelsey Baker said.

Recently, DSP emphasized the importance of recruiting a diverse group of newcomers with each new class of academy candidates, females very much included.

Of the 1,800 most recent applicants, two women and 30 men were hired, according to trooper recruiter Cpl. Adam Jewell.

Delaware currently has the highest percentage of sworn female troopers and highway patrol officers nationally at 13.227 percent, according to data provided by the state, with New York (10.5), Rhode Island (10.4), Illinois (9.9), Florida (9.7) and Minnesota (9.7) in the top six. The bottom five are Mississippi (1.6), Kentucky (1.65), Oklahoma (2.0), Alabama (2.3) and Georgia (2.7).

“We’d like to have a police force that looks like the community it protects and serves on a daily basis,” Kent County-based Troop 3 Commander Capt. Joshua Bushweller said.

“That makes the public more comfortable, which in turn makes it better for the troopers.”

While women must meet slightly lower minimum physical standards for pushups, situps and a 1.5 mile run early in the application process, most far exceed those numbers anyway, officials say.

If a rough and tumble situation arises, women and men rely on their training and support of all troopers present in what’s often a group effort to quell disturbances.

“It’s nice to have such a team aspect and I’ve never felt not capable of going hands on if needed nor never been made to feel that way by any other troopers,” Cpl. Christine Bowie said during a short break from a patrol shift.

Of the state’s 729 troopers, 96 are women. When Lt. Andrea Boone joined the force over two decades ago, less than 10 percent of DSP were women.

She ascended to become the first African-American woman to make lieutenant and said she believes diversified progress continues.

“Yes, I definitely do,” she said. “When you see someone who looks like you, you may start to believe you could do it, too.”

Troopers indicated there’s a better comfort zone with the public when similar characteristics exist (increasing everyone’s safety and possibility of de-escalating a situation) and diversity makes that more likely.

High command, praise

Maj. Melissa Zebley is currently the highest ranking woman in DSP, followed by three captains, four lieutenants, nine sergeants, 26 master corporals, 10 senior corporals, six corporals first class, 17 corporals, 13 troopers first class, five troopers and two recruits in the academy.

Three women have earned DSP Trooper of the Year accolades since the honor was first awarded in 1979 – Sgt. Dannaile Rementer from the Troop 4 Sussex County Drug Unit (2015). Senior Cpl. Mary L. Bartkowski (2007) and Trooper FC. Kimberly J. Cook (1998).

Cpl. Christine Bowie

Cpl. Bowie, 34, and Det. Baker, 32, are both married mothers with children under 5. They’re formerly competitive athletes — Cpl. Bowie played on three state champion St. Mark’s High basketball teams, and Det. Baker played lacrosse at Wesley College.

A Philadelphia native, Lt. Boone, 53, ran track and cross country, plus played basketball.

Lt. Boone came to DSP from Circuit City (managing and training staff) and served seven years in the Army Reserves.

A Kennett Square, Pennsylvania area native, Cpl. Bowie graduated from Penn State and earned a criminal justice degree.

She considered law school but “didn’t want to be reading a book behind a desk reading case law that’s older than me.”

Instead, she gained experience interning at a juvenile detention center in college, followed by working as a counselor and social worker.

Det. Baker’s dad, following a career as a Baltimore police officer, tried to dissuade his daughter from entering into law enforcement.

“He was concerned that the public’s view had changed and police were no longer seen as the good guys,” she said.

Initially heeding his advice, Det. Baker (now married to a trooper) took business jobs that made her “absolutely miserable. I felt like it was time for a change.”

Navigating the process

Anyone interested in exploring possible DSP options can go online to www.becomeatrooper.com or call recruiters at 739-5980.

Ridealongs with current troopers are encouraged to get a sense of real life patrol shifts.

“The DSP Recruitment Unit handles all facets of the hiring process for sworn members,” spokeswoman Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe said.

“From the recruiting efforts at various college/university career fairs and events around our region, to the one-on-one interactions with applicants looking to obtain additional information about the Division, to hosting How to Succeed Seminar’s, to the various testing facets, the Recruitment Unit strives to provide an environment for applicants to succeed, while still upholding the definitive minimum requirements for hire.”

A trooper recruit’s annual salary starts at $48,713 upon entering the training academy.

Once field training (typically 12 weeks) is complete and a recruits ascends to trooper status, the salary becomes $57,653.

Applications are now being taken for the 93rd DSP recruit class, with a deadline of Feb. 22 at 4 p.m.

The pending academy class start dates are September 2019 and March 2020. Successful applicants will be assigned to one of these two classes at the time of their conditional offer, according to the DSP online.

The next physical fitness test and written examination is scheduled to take place in mid March of this year. Applications must be submitted online JobAps at jobapscloud.com/DSP or by clicking the blue “Apply Now” button below. Paper applications are no longer accepted and will not be reviewed if sent.

“How to Succeed: In the Hiring Process” seminars are scheduled. The sessions will take approximately three hours and “will provide you with useful information to better navigate our process successfully, as well as give you one-on-one time with trooper recruiters and recently hired troopers for questions,” according to DSP.

Seminars include:

• Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the DSP Troop 2 Paris Community Room at 100 Lagrange Avenue in Newark.

• Saturday, Feb. 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in classroom 1 of the DSP Training Academy at 1441 N. DuPont Highway in Dover.

Application requirements

Delaware State Police candidates must meet the following requirements prior to submitting an application:

Citizenship

Applicant must be a United States citizen.

Age

Applicants must reach their 21st birthday prior to completion of the Academy training, and must not be older than 39 on the first day of the Academy.

Education

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, and must have attained a minimum of 60 semester credits, or 90 quarter credits, from an accredited college or university OR one that is recognized by the U. S. Department of Higher Education OR 30 college credits along with two years of active duty military service.

An applicant with 30 college credits and any of the below-listed experience will be eligible for an accelerated Academy curriculum:

• Two years (post-training) as a full-time, Delaware-certified police officer.

• Or two years of full-time (post-training) experience as a state trooper from another state, having completed a paramilitary live-in state training academy.

(To compete for the rank of Sergeant, 60 college credits are required. A Bachelor’s Degree is required to compete for the ranks of Lieutenant and above.)

Residence

There is no residency requirement at time of application. However, Delaware residency is required by the completion of the academy training, prior to field training. Troopers are subject to assignment in any part of the state.

Driver’s License

Applicants must have a current valid driver’s license and at least one year of driving experience. An applicant with a prior driving suspension or revocation must have one year of reinstatement in order to be eligible to apply. Any alcohol-related driving arrests and overall driving history will be subject to review.

Criminal record and activity

Any felony conviction is an automatic disqualification. Any criminal activity that would be considered a felony under Delaware law, federal law, or the law of the state in which the activity occurred is a disqualification. Applicants must have all prior criminal arrests expunged before being hired. (Arrest or conviction for all other crimes and offenses are subject to evaluation).

Drug usage

Any use of an illegal drug will be subject to review at the time the application is submitted, any prior use of a hallucinogenic drug, will be an automatic disqualification. All other drug use, including illegally using prescribed drugs, is subject to review.

Weight*

Weight must be in compliance with the Delaware State Police weight chart or maximum allowed body fat percentage.

Hearing*

Normal hearing.

Vision*

Visual acuity can be no worse than 20/40 in each eye, uncorrected, and must be corrected to 20/20 with glasses or gas permeable contacts; or no worse than 20/200 in each eye uncorrected and must be corrected to 20/20 with soft contacts lenses only. Normal color vision and normal depth perception are required.

* (Following an offer of employment, the selected applicants will be examined by the Division’s heath providers for compliance with the above requirements, and will be given a complete medical examination to determine if the applicant is able to perform essential job functions.)

 

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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