(NECN: Mike Cronin) - 174 recruits are one week away from becoming Massachusetts State Troopers.
Thursday, NECN toured the state police academy in New Braintree where recruits have been training for the past five months.
Recruits are tested physically, academically and through different scenarios, like responding to homes on the training facility. Training is rigorous and it's all done under stressful situations.
“We simulate domestic disturbances,” said Colonel Timothy Alben. “Because we know in the real world, they're going to have to handle some very difficult situations, often on their own.”
Of the 174 recruits, 47 are veterans. Andrew Hamilton flew helicopters in the Marine Corps for 15 years.
“I like being part of a team, part of a unit, and I couldn't think of a better place than the Massachusetts State Police,” Hamilton said.
In addition, 52 are former police officers. Chris Zengo was a Watertown officer and was part of the manhunt for the marathon bombing suspect.
“I feel like this is a step up where I can make a larger difference on a larger scale,” Zengo explained.
The state police haven't had a recruit class since 2012. In the past eight years, Col. Alben says they've lost about 500 people, mostly due to retirement.
“It's been a function of the economy more than anything,” Col. Alben explained.
Col. Alben says they could lose even more. A lot of troopers are now eligible for retirement, making this class crucial to the department.
“The needs of this department, I will be quite honest- extend well beyond this recruit training troop,” Col. Alben said.
This class graduates next Friday at the DCU Center. Then, they will have three months of field training.
It costs about six million dollars to put recruits through the academy. However, Col. Alben thinks it's necessary to hold these classes yearly.
“I don't think that there's any profession in this world where you can make a bigger difference in the lives of people,” Col. Alben said.