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Ready to make a difference in everyday lives?

Feb. 4, 2019

Trooper Vanessa Heller with her family at graduation
At Minnesota State Patrol Academy graduation, new troopers get their badges pinned on by family members. Trooper Vanessa Heller’s was pinned on by her daughter.



Vanessa Heller used to be a paralegal in family law. After that, a court administrator. But she just wasn’t satisfied. Then she saw a video that changed her life. Now, her office is a sleek, maroon-and-white State Patrol squad car, and Trooper Heller couldn’t be happier.

Of course, this isn’t a fairy tale – it was a hard road from seeing that video to getting her badge. But with the support of her family and the State Patrol’s Law Enforcement Training Opportunity (LETO) program, she made it. “I applied for the State Patrol, joined a gym and passed all the interview and fitness tests with flying colors, and by September I was a LETO candidate.”

The LETO program is for people who want to become troopers but don’t have any law enforcement experience. If you have a 2- or 4-year college degree in any discipline, you can apply for the 26-week program (oh, and you have to be at least 21 and have a Minnesota driver’s license). The State Patrol will pay your tuition as well as 80 percent of the State Trooper base salary during your training.

The program provides you with the educational requirements necessary to take the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) exam, which qualifies you to become a licensed peace officer. Once you have your POST certification, you’ll attend the 17-week Minnesota State Patrol Academy at Camp Ripley, alongside traditional trainees. After that, it’s graduation, or what Trooper Heller calls “One of the most memorable experiences I’ll ever have.”

Then you’d start your patrolling our highways as a state trooper. Troopers also enforce traffic laws, provide emergency assistance to motorists – including giving first aid to those who are injured – and work with other law enforcement agencies to apprehend those who break the law. Most importantly, you would uphold the State Patrol’s core values: respect, integrity, courage, honor and excellence.

Trooper Heller loves her new job: “It’s a great career. I don’t regret it for a single second,” she says. And she would recommend the experience to anyone, adding, “I would strongly encourage anyone, women, men, whoever is interested in the patrol to really consider a ride-along and seeing if it’s the right fit for them.”

So if you want a career where you can help others, save lives and make a difference every day you put on your uniform, consider the State Patrol. As Trooper Heller puts it, “Being in the State Patrol makes me feel like I’m making a difference in everyday lives. In protecting people and ensuring lives aren’t lost on Minnesota roadways.”

The LETO Program is accepting applications through Feb. 15.