The Georgia State Patrol held graduation ceremonies for its 108th and 109th Trooper Schools on Friday, November 6, at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) in Forsyth. The 108th Trooper School officially graduated on May 14, but a traditional graduation ceremony was not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After 32 weeks of intense training, the 13 members of the 109th Trooper School will report to one of the 52 patrol posts throughout the state. First Lady Marty Kemp was the keynote speaker. Lt. Colonel William W. Hitchens, III, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), issued the Oath of Office. Additionally, remarks were given by Colonel Chris C. Wright, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, Lt. Colonel Stephanie L. Stallings, DPS Director of Support/Administrative Operations, and Capt. Garrett Fiveash, Director of Training.
Trooper Cadets spend 20 weeks at the academy and 12 weeks in field training. The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) requires all peace officers receive a minimum of 408 hours of Basic Mandate Training. At the completion of Trooper School, these newly graduated trooper cadets received over 1,400 hours of training, including driving, defensive tactics, vehicle stops, Spanish, criminal law and criminal procedure, firearms, accident investigation, and various other training.
Both class presidents gave remarks to their fellow class members. Trooper Zachary Pruitt, of the 108th, reflected on the core values (Trust, Fortitude, Compassion and Professionalism) that were instilled into each of them from the first day and made it possible for them to become the Troopers they are today. Trooper Charles Pitts, of the 109th, emphasized the appreciation his classmates felt towards their family for being supportive of them while they were in trooper school and the dedication of the training staff to get them through their long and tough journey.
Eight of the graduates received special honors for top performance in various fields of study. The honorees were:
108th Trooper School
- Driving Proficiency – Trooper Aaron Ramirez
- Firearms Proficiency – Trooper Zachary Pruitt
- Highest Academic Average – Trooper Taylor Stevenson & Stephen Spires
- Top Gun – Trooper Luke Murray
109th Trooper School
- Driving Proficiency – Trooper Stephen Jones
- Firearms Proficiency – Trooper Charles Pitts
- Highest Academic Average – Trooper Charles Pitts
- Top Gun – Trooper Jacob Rice
Troopers Stevenson, Spires and Pitts each received a $1,000 scholarship towards a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Reinhardt University for having the highest academic average in his class.
Additionally, the following graduates were recognized for their leadership:
108th: Trooper Shawn Tapley, Vice President; Trooper Mubin Akhawala, Secretary/Treasurer; Trooper Matthew Edwards, Chaplain; Trooper Malcolm Lemons, Sergeant-at-Arms; and Trooper Kenneth Schlegel, Pennant Bearer.
109th: Trooper William Rineer, Vice President; Trooper Ethan Martin, Secretary/Treasurer; Trooper Theron Freeman, Chaplain; Trooper Theron Freeman, Sergeant-at-Arms; and Trooper Jamie Wilson, Pennant Bearer.
108th Trooper School News Release posted on May 14, 2020 (includes post assignments)
Each commissioned trooper of the 109th Trooper School will report to the following assigned post:
|TROOPER||HOME COUNTY||POST ASSIGNMENT|
|Gustabo Deanda, Jr.||Cook||Post 13 – Tifton|
|Theron Freeman||Henry||Post 1 – Griffin|
|David Gill, Jr.||Lee||Post 10 – Americus|
|Stephen Jones||Liberty||Post 11 – Hinesville|
|Roderick Love||Marion||Post 34 – Manchester|
|Ethan Martin||Union||Post 6 – Gainesville|
|Akintunde Monds||Grady||Post 6 – Gainesville|
|Weston Phillips||Carroll||Post 4 – Villa Rica|
|Charles Pitts||Colquitt||Post 4 – Colquitt|
|Jacob Rice||Rockdale||Post 46 – Monroe|
|William Rineer||Pennsylvania||Post 12 – Thomasville|
|Kaitlyn Santos||Bartow||Post 3 – Cartersville|
|Jamie Wilson||Cherokee||Post 28 – Jasper|