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Cadet Program Grows as MSP Seeks More Troopers

Looking to infuse its ranks with young and diverse talent, the Michigan State Police (MSP) has more than quadrupled its cadet positions while also lowering the age requirement for the popular program that gives young Michiganders a paid opportunity to explore what it’s like to be a trooper.

In past years, applicants had to be at least 19 years old and enrolled in college to be eligible for the MSP Cadet Program. The age requirement is now 18, and these positions are open to high school students for the first time.

F/Lt. Duane Zook, who oversees the Cadet Program and other recruiting efforts at the MSP, said traditionally we have had a dozen or so cadets at a time, but the program was recently expanded to 90 positions across the state. “It’s a great opportunity for young individuals interested in a career with the MSP,” he said. “Working as a cadet you’re able to make money and experience every aspect of the job. It’s a great place to work.”

After a five-day paid residential training program, cadets are assigned to posts or worksites near where they live, and they get hands-on experience in policing. They join patrols and write reports. They learn about legal statutes and attend criminal investigations.

The Cadet Program serves an important purpose because it engages youth in the time before they are 21 years of age, which is the age requirement to apply for trooper recruit school. The program is also structured in such a way as to prepare them for the next step on the path to becoming a trooper: Trooper Recruit School, otherwise known as “the academy.”

“Working as a cadet helped me see that my goal of becoming a trooper was achievable and it taught me the steps I needed to follow to make it through the academy,” said Tpr. Logan VanElls, 21, of Fowler, a former cadet.

trooper preparing to receive his badge at graduation

“The great thing about the MSP Cadet Program is you get real applied experience and you receive a paycheck,” he said, “so I was able to pay for my college tuition through the program.”

High school and college cadets are paid a starting rate of $16.24 an hour, with opportunities for pay increases every year, and a higher starting rate for graduate students.

F/Lieutenant Zook credits his MSP career to the cadet program and a criminal justice teacher who introduced him to it more than 20 years ago, D/Sgt. James “Jim” Martemucci, Ret.

“It was our first day of the semester and he looked me straight in the eye and welcomed me into his class with a big smile and a firm handshake. I was a kid from Battle Creek, no teacher ever greeted me and shook my hand like that before,” said F/Lieutenant Zook. “His demeanor assured me that this was the professional route I wanted to take.”

Now F/Lieutenant Zook is inspiring a new generation of cadets and troopers, like Trooper VanElls.

Photo of trooper receiving badge at graduation

“I can’t think of anything else that would better help prepare you for being a trooper than being a cadet,” the new trooper said.

Those interested in becoming a trooper or working for the MSP are encouraged to apply to become a cadet by completing the online application.