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Hochul expands eligibility for state police recruits

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(The Center Square) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is bumping the maximum age for state police recruits as part of a broader effort to boost the state’s law enforcement ranks to address major crimes.

On Thursday, Hochul announced that she had approved a request from the New York State Police to raise the maximum age to apply to become a trooper from 29 to 34 and expanded classes and training for recruits.

“By raising the maximum age of new recruits, we are widening the pool of people who can help us with this incredibly important work,” Hochul said in a statement. “After doubling the number of graduating classes from the New York State Police Academy starting next year, this new rule will help the State recruit more Troopers and protect the people of New York.”

The plan also adds two additional classes of recruits, bringing the total to four a year. The Hochul administration said that will accelerate the rebuilding of the force and expand the number of troopers dedicated to addressing violent crimes, removing unlicensed guns from the streets and combating the flow of illegal drugs.

Acting New York State Police Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said the changes will allow the agency “to recruit the most diverse and skilled group of candidates possible.”

“There are many qualified candidates from the military or other careers who decide that they want to transition to the state police, but because of the previous age requirement, some were not eligible,” he said. “These are individuals that have a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to the job.”

He pointed out that the police agency has redesigned its recruitment program to reach more potential female and minority candidates to help diversify its ranks in a police force where more than 88% of the sworn officers are white.

Overall, the move is part of a broader effort to fill hundreds of vacancies in the police agency, which has struggled amid low recruitment as troopers retire and leave the profession for other jobs.

Hochul is also touting increased funding for law enforcement, with more than $66 million in the recently signed $229 billion state budget to fund additional New York State Police academy classes and increase the number of troopers focused on addressing serious crimes.

The next entrance exam for state police recruits will be held along with the application process from July through September, according to the Hochul administration. Applications can be submitted beginning July 1.

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