My name is Julia Troxell and I live in Algood, TN. I have been a Tennessee State Trooper for the past five years. I serve the sixth district which includes Putnam county and fourteen surrounding counties. The county I primarily work in is Putnam on the midnight shift. The job is very stressful yet rewarding. From a very young age I always knew I wanted to be involved with law enforcement. I chose the highway patrol because in my eyes they are the elite.
They are no better than any other law enforcement agency, however they are held to a higher standard in comparison with a city or county agency. Professionalism, integrity and pride are demanded of all troopers in the state of Tennessee. I am going to explain how I got to where I am and some of my duties and responsibilities on a daily basis. In order for me to get hired by the state of Tennessee, especially the Tennessee Highway Patrol, I had to be patient.
The hiring process is long and tedious. There are lengthy applications, a difficult fitness test, physical and mental evaluations, and an in depth background check. If I am selected for hire after all of that, I would then go to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security training academy.
The academy is located in Nashville, TN. The academy will be my home for the next eighteen weeks. Those eighteen weeks are pure hell. The instructors pushed me to my physical and mental limits. The weak individuals and individuals that aren’t willing to give their all get rooted out. In order to make it through the academy I had to want it. While at the academy I learned the fundamentals of being a trooper. I earned all of my certifications required to be a law enforcement officer.
During the first two weeks of training I had no outside contact with the rest of the world. No phone calls, no internet access, and no going home. I was cut off from my friends and family completely. The first two weeks are without a doubt the hardest. During this time I was pushed to your my limits. Also during this time is when most of the washout occurs. A large number of cadets drop out due to the physical stress. I was woken up during the night to go running or do calisthenics. I was yelled at constantly and nothing I did was right. The instructors are intense but it is all with good intention. They want only the best hard working cadets to become troopers.
After the initial two weeks things are still rough but the mindset changes. It becomes more about learning. I got to go home on most weekends and talk to the people back home most every night after class was over. Once the eighteen week program is over I was given my assignment to which county or counties I would be patrolling. I was also assigned a patrol car. There is still much to learn after the initial training. After I got back to my county there is another ten week program which I must pass. This ten week program is on the job training. Your first two weeks I rode along with my field training officer. I didn’t do anything but ride and observe.
The field training officer explains what he is doing and why he is doing it. The next two weeks I was riding with the field training officer but now I got to start talking to people and get a little more hands on. The three weeks after that I was driving my patrol car and the field training officer rode with me. During these three weeks he is right by my side at all times and watches and assists me with everything. The final three weeks I still had my field training officer riding with me but I was pretty much on my own and independent. If I successfully complete the ten week program I am officially a state trooper.
Being a state trooper is very stressful. The long hours and the type of people you have to deal with sometimes can be very frustrating. You are held to a very high standard. I must stay professional no matter what kind of hateful people I crossed. The job is also exciting. Every day is different. A state trooper’s job is to serve and protect the citizens and visitors of the state of Tennessee. A few examples are helping stranded motorists, writing citations, working motor vehicle accidents, doing commercial vehicle inspections, and doing drug interdiction.
My personal favorite is getting the drunks off the road and drug interdiction. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is very dangerous. Since the first of this year there has already been over eighty drug or alcohol related accidents investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol in the sixth district alone. Over half of those resulted in bodily injury to someone involved. A few of those accidents ended up being fatal. This is the reason why I go after the people that like to drink and drive. It doesn’t make a difference who you are, friend or foe or even family member. If I catch you driving under the influence you are going to jail.
Drug interdiction is the attempt to get drugs off our highways and out of the state. Drug interdiction can be very dangerous. When you take someone’s dope or drug money it makes for a very tense situation. Interdiction is important because drugs and drug dealers need to be stopped and eliminated. Dope does nothing but hurt people. Not only does it hurt the user but it hurts their family.
I see a lot of things as a state trooper. Being a normal road trooper these things can start to get to me and burn me out. The good thing about the Tennessee Highway Patrol is that after three years of being a trooper is I can apply to different work details. There are several different things to do in the highway patrol. I could join the special operations unit. The Special Operations Section of the Tennessee Highway Patrol is charged with handling situations outside the normal duties of the Department of Safety. The Special Operations Unit consists of four specialized sections: the Aviation section, Tactical/Bomb Squad, K-9 section and Governor’s Task Force on Marijuana Eradication.
The specialized sections are based out of Nashville to allow for rapid deployment throughout the State. Among another route I may take is commercial vehicle enforcement. Commercial vehicle enforcement activities include inspecting commercial vehicles and driver logs, patrolling highways with a focus on truck traffic violations, and weighing the commercial vehicles both at Interstate Inspection Stations and with portable scales along the highway.
In conclusion, being a state trooper can be a very rewarding job. Getting to help people on a daily basis is very fulfilling. The stress of the job is worth it. Seeing the look of satisfaction on someone’s face I just helped can make all the stress go away. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is also a great place to work due to the flexibility and range of different types of jobs I can perform within the department. The road to becoming a state trooper is long and definitely not easy. But for someone who loves to help others and keep them safe, it is the perfect career.