Joe LaFurgey -
ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) -- These days, Michigan State Police Trooper Christopher Gerard is spending more time talking to people interested in wearing the badge than catching bad guys.
"I talked to them about our history and our tradition, and the need for people like us to be out there to do the things we need to do on a daily basis," explained Gerard, the MSP Rockford Post's full-time recruitment trooper.
MSP has created full-time recruitment troopers at a number of posts, including Rockford.
"We are on a big-time hiring frenzy right now and will be for the foreseeable future," Gerard said.
That frenzy was brought on by some lean years for MSP's ranks. The Great Recession essentially canceled MSP recruit schools between 2007 and 2011. Retirements and added responsibilities for the agency have created a challenge for the agency.
"This last seven years has really been catch-up because were still not at the strength we were prior to that," Gerard said.>>Online: Careers with MSP
Applicants have to go through a rigorous vetting process. You must be 21 by graduation day at the academy. A high school diploma or GED, good driving record, good moral character and, obviously, no criminal record are just a few of the basics that will get you into the academy.
For many recruits, that's the easy part.
"This isn't one of those things where you just kind of wing it, and say, 'Well, you know, they got good pay and good benefits and I'm not really doing much now. Maybe I'll try things out,'" Gerard said.
Gerard and the other recruitment troopers have their jobs cut out for them. MSP has as many as four recruit schools planned for the next year.
"We're building our strength, but we're not even close to where we need to be," Gerard said.
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