New Wisconsin State Patrol requirements aim to promote diversity

FORT MCCOY, Wis (WMTV) -- In an effort to promote diversity, Wisconsin State Patrol is accepting applications with a new qualification.

In the past, Wisconsin State Patrol required applicants to have 60 college credits to even be considered. Now, state patrol officers have up to five years to earn those 60 college credits.

One cadet said this change allowed him to get his hands on a dream job earlier than planned.

"We're here working hard on these drills to defend ourselves and learn arrest techniques on state patrol," Rolly D. Wagas Jr. said.

Drill after drill, Wagas said he's pushed beyond his limits, but the challenge is what keeps him motivated.

"I've been fighting for this type of position because my dream has always been to go into law enforcement,” he said.

His dream is now a reality. Wagas is one of 13 in the 65th recruit class, who used this rule change to his advantage.

"I was one of those cadets who only had 40 credits and now I’m working for the first 5 years to get the credits up,” he said.

Wisconsin State Patrol officials said the change will allow people from all cultural and educational backgrounds to apply and get a boatload of training that ranges from defense and arrest tactics to cultural competency classes.

"A diverse workforce allows you to bring different perspectives when establishing agency policy and procedures. It’s extremely important in the area of training, especially for new recruits to expose them to those different perspectives and cultural and demographic differences," Wisconsin State Patrol Academy Captain Paul D. Matl said.

"When we're out in the field, you're going to be in high stress situations. We deal with all kinds of people and there might be a time when someone is bigger than you and then you're really tired fighting them off," Wagas said.

Officials hope these new requirements will bring more opportunities for those who didn't have the chance to go to college to protect and serve.

"People have different skills in strengths and I feel like state patrol is able to take more people from the general population and not just people who have a degree," he said.

Wagas said now since he has this opportunity, hes going to give it his best shot until the 26-week training program is over and he's officially behind the badge.

"At the end of the day people will be depending on me to be the best that I can be," he said.