BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – Soldiers in North Dakota have taken to the roads to keep people safe. This is why they say it is important to recruit and train competent people.
The organization of the NDHP began with five soldiers in 1935-1936 with the approval of the Legislative Assembly. The agency grew as the population grew.
“There’s always fluctuation in any industry and it’s no different with law enforcement,” said Sgt. Wade Kadrmas, public information officer for the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Already this year, the 159 sworn soldiers of the North Dakota Highway Patrol have made 385 impaired driving arrests. This is compared to 1,015 carried out in 2021. They also participate in interdiction efforts, road safety efforts and accident response, as well as aerial searches and pursuits. They patrol the 70,761 square miles of the state.
This is similar to the South Dakota Highway Patrol, which began in 1935 with ten men given a car, tow chain, first aid kit, and a gallon of gasoline. Now their 197 members are hard at work patrolling South Dakota’s 77,116 square miles of roadway, according to their government website.
“Our goal is to protect people. And that’s what we do. We do this through education and enforcement,” said Tony Mangen, public information officer for the South Dakota Highway Patrol.
Law enforcement agencies across the country have seen a drop in the number of applicants over the past few years. This year, 86 applications were submitted and 64 people went to the NDHP tests.
“I’ve been on patrol for about 15 years, and I think that’s a huge decrease from when I first came on patrol until now,” said Sgt. Kadrmas, who competed against around 300 applicants for one position.
A June 2021 national survey found that departments across the country were filling an average of 93% of available budgeted positions and quits had increased by 18%. Agents say a number of factors such as reluctance to join, location and the pandemic likely contribute to these statistics.
Despite falling demands, law enforcement presence on the roads remains high and soldiers say it will remain high.
“We make sure we have a presence around the state on the freeways, especially the freeways, you know, every day,” Mangen said.
The soldiers say the work is worth it.
“The best part, and that’s just for me, the ability to get out on the open road. Whether it’s just a sunny day here in North Dakota, crossing the highway, seeing the beautiful countryside. That’s what which drew me to patrol, and obviously to community service,” said Sgt Kadrmas.
The agency continues to train new recruits to ensure they meet high standards.
To become a soldier, there are necessary training and testing requirements, as well as a lengthy interview and training process that individuals must go through. This year, the North Dakota Highway Patrol also signed a 30-by-30 initiative to increase female representation in law enforcement to 30% by 2030. To learn more, visit: Apply today (nd .gov).
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