JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri State Highway Patrol is short dozens of troopers with many veteran troopers retiring and not enough recruits coming in. The state patrol said it’s hard to play catch up.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) is short nearly 100 troopers as of the state of June, that’s double what is typical for the state agency. MSHP said in 2012, the department had 24 vacancies, and in 2008 there were 52. 

“I have learned and grown an unmeasurable amount in these past six months,” said Trooper Shayla Latture on the day of graduation. 

Latture is one of 25 recruits who graduated at the end of June. For 25 weeks, the new troopers were taught how to shoot a gun, manage a traffic stop and how to deal with the stress of the job. 

“One undeniable quality this academy teaches you how to find is grit,” said the Brandson native Latture. 

She grew up working on marinas near her hometown, talking to troopers who serve on the water. While at the academy, she specialized in marine operations, meaning she will now patrol waterways in Missouri. 

“We pull boats over for the same kind of reasons that you would pull over a vehicle on the side of the road,” said Latture. 

She said she was in college studying criminal justice when she decided she wanted to become a trooper and help the people of Missouri. 

“When you tell people, ‘Oh, I’m a state trooper, or this is what I want to do or this is what I’m passionate about,’ sometimes you get, depending on who you are talking to, you’ll get a little like, ‘oh,'” said Latture. “I would just encourage people to be reminded that we are humans too, we’re people too and we make mistakes but the majority of us out there have really good hearts.”

She, along with other graduates like Taylor Wiebe from Wichita, Kansas understand they are graduating at a time when the field to become a cop is dwindling. 

“Whether the person I have on the shoulder of the road has a good experience or a negative experience, I hope that my professionalism and courtesy to them can help change their mind about what law enforcement is,” said Wiebe. 

Wiebe said the past six months were tough, but worth the long days, the workouts, and the studying. 

“I’ve grown a lot, I’ve learned a lot of new skills, but no joke, it’s been very challenging,” said Wiebe. 

Wiebe’s first assignment is in the Bootheel, in Troop E. He said his goal for becoming a trooper is to build a better relationship between the community and law enforcement. 

“In 2022, we still need good cops, we still need people who want to take the oath, do the job and do it well and if you want to see a change in the world, you can that change, so you might as well take action,” Wiebe said. 

Applications for the next recruit class that starts in January are open through July 10. There will be two different types of classes, an accelerated version that is for current law enforcement officers or first responders, and only last 15 weeks. For those, that don’t have a background in law enforcement, the course runs 25 weeks. 

“Those people who have no law enforcement experience, I think you should aim high,” Wiebe said. “A state-level agency has a lot of funding, a lot of training, and a lot of different jobs other than just being on the road.”

For more information on the application process, visit MSHP’s website: https://statepatrol.dps.mo.gov/pages/becomeatrooper.