North Carolina Highway Patrol drops minimum age for recruits

| 8/22/2006

In an effort to boost the number of state troopers in North Carolina the state Highway Patrol is pursuing younger recruits.

The Highway Patrol announced Tuesday, Aug. 15, it will lower the minimum age for applying to join the police force from 21 to 19 years and six months, The Associated Press reported. The patrol is also expanding its recruiting efforts by talking with students at community colleges and visiting driver’s education classes.

Agency spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin said nearly 8 percent of the patrol’s 1,815 trooper positions are vacant. The patrol is hopeful that reducing the age requirement will help fill the positions.

“We’re not at a critical state by any means,” Clendenin told The AP, but “we’ve got vacancies that need to be filled.”

The new tactics are intended to attract young adults to the patrol before they join another law enforcement agency or choose another career, such as the military.

Clendenin also cited baby boomers who are retiring from the force and officers called up in the military reserves for the drain on enforcement personnel. In addition, cash-strapped municipalities are struggling to keep pay and benefits for officers competitive.