National convention

South Dakota cabinet member briefs national convention on state’s youth program

During his address to delegates at the American Legion National Convention, Craig L. Price – Cabinet Secretary for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety – spoke about how the current climate in the country is making recruiting difficult. of law enforcement officers.

But the 25-year law enforcement veteran who served as superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol from 2011 to 2019, also shared information about the program he says is a source of pride: South Dakota Youth Trooper Academy. A cooperative effort between the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the American Legion Department of South Dakota, the academy is a week-long residential learning experience for students entering their senior year of high school or who have just graduated from high school.

“As difficult as recruitment is in these difficult times, the future of our country is in the hands of our young people. There is no organization that recognizes this more than you, the American Legion,” said Price, a former Boys State, South Dakota National Guard veteran and Post 500 member in South Dakota. “I’m very proud of (the South Dakota Youth Trooper Academy). Our mission is to recruit young men and women from across our state and provide them with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of law enforcement and, most importantly, what it means to be a good citizen.

Price said the academy was not designed to help struggling youth or serve as a summer camp. “The program is mentally and physically demanding,” he said. “We use a paramilitary approach to training and the discipline is strict. Applicants are highly motivated, of good character and good character. And some of them have an interest in law enforcement.

During the week, recruits receive various training, including firearms safety, defensive driving, accident investigation, citizenship and leadership.

“Rookies graduating from the program are proud of their accomplishments, and the lessons they’ve learned will serve them well for years to come,” Price said. “Since the program’s inception, nearly 30 graduates have become certified law enforcement officers in our state. Many more have joined the military or are currently serving as law enforcement officers in other states.

State Troopers and Legionnaires serve as mentors and chaperones during the week. “And I’m told the week is just as fun or more fun for mentors than it is for rookies,” Price said. “The American Legion and its South Dakota Youth Trooper Academy is an exceptional investment in our youth, and I am very proud to be a part of it. If you don’t have a program in your state, you should consider it. This investment is money well spent.