FORT DODGE - The Iowa State Patrol is looking for a few new troopers.
Specifically, the state is in the middle of a hiring process that's expected to bring 30 new state troopers to the roads across Iowa.
According to Lt. Kelly Hindman, District 7 Commander for the Iowa State Patrol, 15 of those troopers have already been hired and have begun their training at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Johnston. The remaining 15 are currently being hired.
A decrease in the number of active troopers was the catalyst for opening up hiring, according to Hindman.
"We're at historically low numbers of troopers in the state," he said. "Due to budget constraints, we haven't been able to backfill people as quickly as we would have liked."
Lawmakers approved funding for the additional troopers during the past legislative session.
At this point, Hindman said it's too early to tell how many of those troopers will be placed with Post 7, which includes Webster, Hamilton, Calhoun, Kossuth, Humboldt, Wright and Pocahontas counties.
"We have certainly made an appeal for more troopers in our district," Hindman said. "Since I took over as district commander in May 2007, we have had nine troopers leave our district for various reasons, and we haven't had any new people assigned here."
"We're hoping that between these two academies that we can get some," he added.
While the first academy is just beginning now, Hindman said the second will start in October.
However, once someone begins their training, they won't actually start patrolling the roads immediately.
"That process takes almost a year," Hindman said. "It takes awhile to get somebody on the road, and that's a good thing. We want to make sure somebody we turn loose is fully trained and competent, and ready to be out on their own. It's important to do that, but we also have to wait."
This latest group of troopers being hired will also be the first to go straight from the academy to the road, according to Hindman.
"It used to be that when we hired a mix of people, some of them would go to what is now called Post 16 to provide protection and security around the capital complex and all the state buildings," Hindman said. "For the last six or seven years, all of our people had gone to Post 16 and we haven't been able to immediately hire anybody to come out and be a road trooper."
Because troopers can now go straight to road duty, Hindman said this will open up new opportunities.
"There are a number of people who want to be a state trooper out on the road, but aren't interested in participating in the Post 16 experience," he said. "Some of this next class that we hire will come straight to the road. This will attract a broader field of applicants for us."
Applications are submitted online at the Iowa Department of Public Safety's website, which guides applicants through a 10-step process.
Hindman described hiring standards for the State Patrol as "stringent, and we're unapologetic about that."
"It's hard to become a state trooper and we like it to be hard," he said. "It demonstrates somebody's commitment to the position."
Training includes physical assessments, written tests and what Hindman described as a "fairly rigorous oral board interview."
Applicants also need to undergo a polygraph test and a background check.
"It's very complex, as it needs to be to get everything we need to know about people," he said. "We're looking for people who are interested in a career and not a job, because we don't get very many people who leave us. We think that speaks highly of the organization."