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Thirty-one ways the State Patrol is even better than before

June 4, 2018

A child pins a badge on a new state patrol trooper at graduation


You hear them before you see them: The steady beat of dozens of boots on the arena floor, their commander’s voice calling out in time. And then they emerge from either side of the stage: 31 men and women of all different sizes and ages and colors. But their commonalities are more obvious than their differences. Ramrod-straight backs. Solemn expressions that acknowledge the formidable responsibility they are about to accept. And the uniform. They’re all wearing that maroon and gold uniform.

They are about to become Minnesota State Troopers.

The class of cadets that graduated from the Minnesota State Patrol Training Academy on May 15 calls themselves Kreuger’s 59th. Trooper Ray Kreuger served with the State Patrol for 25 years and was the first in the patrol’s history to die in a crash. The number has triple significance: This is the 59th training academy class, and Trooper Kreuger died in 1959…59 years ago. They dedicated their time at the academy to him and all fallen troopers.

There is everything you’d expect at a graduation: smiling friends and families, speeches, photos, awards. But there are some surprises, too: a banner thanking the troopers for their service and helping to save lives, held up by families of Minnesotans killed in crashes. They come to every graduation. Or the two policemen standing by the wall, their black uniforms contrasting with the troopers’, making you wonder what they’re doing there until they join the other families and friends waiting to step onstage to pin the new troopers’ badges on. They are the mentors of one of the cadets, a former cop.

Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman exhorts the new troopers to take good care of themselves; Colonel Matt Langer makes everyone laugh by telling them they’re allowed to smile and look places other than straight ahead; the class speaker, Cadet Gustavo Culbeaux, acknowledges how incredibly difficult the academy had been for all of them – and that it was absolutely worth the struggle.

Cadet (now Trooper) Culbeaux’s classmates were licensed peace officers, military veterans, construction workers. They had worked in pizza places and hospitals; made concrete and fixed diesel engines; just graduated from college. The line of loved ones waiting to help them make the final transformation into troopers by pinning on their badges consists of husbands and wives, parents, girlfriends and fiancées, and children ranging from babies to teens. They all look happy and immensely proud.

And then Col. Langer leads them in the oath of office, when they swear to keep the Minnesota roads safe and uphold the State Patrol’s core values: respect, integrity, courage, honor and excellence.

As you watch them file neatly out, proud heads held high in their distinctive maroon hats, you know they will keep that oath with every fiber of their being.

And if you are in law enforcement now or are POST eligible, you can join them by applying for the 60th Training Academy starting today through June 29. For details on qualifications, visit mntrooper.com.