Maryland State Police 136th Trooper Candidate Class Graduation
Century High School
March 4, 2011
Thank you, Colonel Sheridan. Good morning.
To our assembled law enforcement officials, distinguished guests, family, and friends, thank you. To the 136th Trooper Candidate Class of the Maryland State Police, I come here on behalf of a grateful state—to you and your families.
There are some challenges so large that we can only tackle them together. We are grateful for your willingness to serve, and grateful to your families for the sacrifices they’ve had to make, and the hardships that come with having a loved one on the front lines of our State’s defenses. We are a better State for it.
With your 26 weeks of training, you have taken the first steps along a path that brave Marylanders have been walking for 90 years now. Like your predecessors, you have shown skill, endurance and courage.
There were 61 people who started this course with you. Only 46 remain. Your presence here is a testament to your ability, and your devotion.
You join an organization of 1,500 troopers and 700 support personnel that works around-the-clock. Together, thanks to the courage and leadership of your fellow officers, we have reduced murders in our state by 23% since 2007.
For our troopers, it’s all part of a day’s work.
Last year, State Troopers took more than 7,800 drunk drivers off of our roads.
Last year, the State Police MedEvac flew 2,116 critically injured patients to medical care.
Last year, State Police helicopters conducted 494 search and rescue missions, aided by our effort to replace half the fleet.
Last year, the State Police’s Forensic Sciences Division examined over 18,000 cases.
And last year¸ the State Police Homicide Unit led or assisted in 38 investigations, made 42 arrests, and obtained a 100% conviction rate on murder prosecutions.
Public safety is your vocation, and it is our State’s highest priority. It is why that even in these tough times, we’ve moved forward, continuing to hire, educate and train new troopers. (Your class is the eighth I’ve had the privilege of graduating as Governor—in all, 328 new members of the Maryland State Police.)
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Maryland State Police. Its origin is a remarkable story.
It was 1920 and the wake of World War I. Newspapers wrote of a “post-war outlaw wave sweeping the country,” saying “the output of daring and ingenious criminals” had doubled or maybe even tripled since the armistice. Maryland’s highways were being taken over by bootleggers and bandits, and the public didn’t feel safe.
So it fell to Governor Albert Ritchie, who was ending the first year of what would be a 15-year administration, to call up a small force of 20 to 30 men to police the roadways… on motorcycles.
Within three weeks, the first candidates were training at the Saunders Ridge firearm range near Glen Burnie.
Their instruction included: crime investigation, marksmanship, life-saving techniques, motorcycle repair, and boxing—taught by one of the greatest boxers in history, Naval Academy coach, Merrill “Spike” Webb.
And get this: On motorcycle repair, a 20-question examination was administered, and every candidate passed without a single mistake.
By February 10, they were activated. In their story the next day, The Baltimore Sun declared, “A military police force on motorcycles, trained to the minute, fit for a riot or a pistol duel, became a part of the State of Maryland yesterday with Governor Ritchie telling its husky young members that he is [behind] them to the limit of law enforcement.”
Well, today, this Governor is still behind you and the brave work you’ll do, and so too are the people of our State.
Thank you and congratulations.