“One fight, one team, FHP 118” was the 118th Basic Recruit Class’s motto. After dedicating 27 weeks of hard work and dedication, 60 men and women joined the ranks of the Florida Highway Patrol as State Troopers on Feb. 11, 2010.
On Aug. 9, 2009, 58 recruits arrived at the Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy to begin the quest for excellence in an effort to become a Florida state trooper. Not all of those 58 would prevail in the next 19 weeks of strenuous and painstaking basic recruit training. Between the curriculum and the physical training requirements, the number of recruits dwindled to 52. The staff, led by former Academy Director Chief Leroy Smith and current Academy Director Maj. Brent Coates, encouraged the 118th Basic Recruit Class to stay focused and live by the FHP motto, “Courtesy, Service, and Protection.”
The curriculum used by the academy is scenario-based and gives instructors flexibility, which enhances the training experience. The class was exposed to real-time and real-life scenarios that helped them develop officer safety techniques and survival skills that form the foundation for being a state trooper.
In September the members of the 118th visited Pyramid Inc. Development Center, which is a facility that assists persons with mental and physical disabilities. The recruits responded expressively, and it appeared that they were enthralled by the students’ overall abilities, personalities, and friendliness, in the face of their disabilities.
During the holidays, the 118th showed a giving spirit towards the local communities. During high liability first aid training, the recruits and a few academy staff members donated 33 units of blood to the Southeastern Community Blood Center. The class also donated money to Seminole Baptist Church to feed local families and gave blankets to elderly residents in Gadsden County.
On Dec. 16, 2009, the recruits were subjected to the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission’s State Officers Certification Exam. The class upheld the academy’s long history of being ranked among the top five in training center success rates on the exam, and it was the second time in a row that FHP’s recruits were 100 percent successful in their first attempt to obtain certification. This achievement speaks volumes of the effort put forth by each and every member of the class and the dedication of the academy staff (Capt. Bryan Hudson; Lts. Nancy Rasmussen, Daniel Hinton and Jimmie Collins; Sgts. Robert Boucher, Todd Carter and Keely Weaver; and Troopers John Castleberry, Walter Liddell and Melissa Oman.) On Dec. 18, 2009, eight certified law enforcement officers joined the 118th BRC, bringing the total of the class to 60.
In addition to their classroom training, the recruits participated in a ride-along program with Troop H troopers after hours. It was designed to create an opportunity for the recruit trooper to observe how the Florida Highway Patrol operates and to reinforce coursework. During a ride-along, a recruit trooper observes and participates in a trooper’s working environment. The 118th enjoyed the experience, and the academy is very thankful to Troop H troopers for their assistance.
The graduation ceremony was held at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum on Feb. 11. The 118th Recruit Class marched out, just as those before them, with their heads held high with great pride.
The class president’s speech recognized the 42 fallen troopers, which was a first for the graduation ceremony. As each fallen trooper’s name was called, a member of the 118th BRC stood up as recognition of their ultimate sacrifice.
After opening remarks from Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Julie L. Jones and Florida Highway Patrol Director, Col. John Czernis, Gov. Charlie Crist addressed attendees at the graduation ceremony, which included hundreds of family members, friends and representatives from other state and local law enforcement agencies. After delivering his encouraging and heartfelt remarks, the 118th BRC presented a class t-shirt to the governor.
The Florida Highway Patrol’s Honor Guard was present at the 118th BRC graduation, dressed in the new dress jackets provided by the FHP Advisory Council. The Advisory Council Award, a dress jacket, was given to the 118th class Platoon Leader, Frank Troxel, for displaying the most professional image of the Patrol.
Class Achievement Awards