FORSYTH — The Georgia State Patrol graduated its 106th Trooper School on Friday at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth.

After 32 weeks of intense training, 33 new troopers will report to one of the 52 patrol posts throughout the state.

Among the graduates was Walton County resident Nicholas Hawkins, who was recognized for having the highest academic average in the class and for earning the Top Gun honor.

He will be stationed out of Post 46 in Monroe, serving Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties.

Gov. Brian P. Kemp was the keynote speaker and he also issued the oath of office. Additionally, remarks were given by Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, and Capt. Joshua Lamb, director of training.

Trooper cadets spend 20 weeks at the academy and 12 weeks in field training. The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council requires all peace officers receive a minimum of 400 hours of Basic Mandate Training.

At the completion of Trooper School, these newly graduated troopers received more than 1,500 hours of training, including driving, defensive tactics, vehicle stops, Spanish, criminal law and criminal procedure, firearms, accident investigation and various other training.

“It was an honor to go through this tough challenge of life together and I wish you all the best in your careers wherever it may lead you,” the class president, Trooper Jerry Slade, said during remarks to his fellow class members.

“We’re right where we need to be,” he added.

Four of the graduates received special honors for top performance in various fields of study. The honorees were:

  • Driving proficiency: Trooper Kyle Thompson
  • Firearms proficiency: Trooper Clarence Johnson
  • Highest academic average: Hawkins
  • Top Gun: Hawkins

Hawkins also received a $1,000 scholarship toward a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Reinhardt University for having the highest academic average in his class.

Additionally, the following graduates were recognized for their leadership: Trooper Erik Austell, vice president; Trooper David Allan, secretary/treasurer; Trooper Patrick Pollett, chaplain; Trooper Rebecca Moran, sergeant-at-arms; and Trooper Evan Joyner, pennant bearer.

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