EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- With a new year comes new goals and new experiences. For more than a dozen troopers in training, there are new jobs not too far from home.
The 60th Recruit Class of the Wisconsin State Patrol graduated from State Patrol Academy at Ft. McCoy in December. It was a rigorous six months, but now 13 of the 47 that gradated are joining the Wisconsin State Patrol Northwest Region.
Captain Jeff Frenette is the Commanding Officer for the Northwest Region's Wisconsin State Patrol. He said most of these troopers have local ties in western Wisconsin, all the way to Douglas County.
"We have 20 counties. Most of those positions' vacancies are on the interstate including St. Croix, Dunn, Eau Claire and Jackson counties," said Frenette.
You could call this group of troopers "homegrown."
"I was born and raised in Menomonie but I currently live in Chippewa Falls," said Ashley Morales. She's among six women who graduated from the academy. Morales is the only female trooper to join the northwest post.
"I went to college at UW-Stout and been here pretty much ever since," said Bill Lindeman. He's no stranger to law enforcement. Lindeman was a police officer for the city of Altoona judy before he went into the academy.
Morales said with family and friends near by, she now has the ability give back to them and protect them as a law enforcement officer.
The new band of troopers are beginning to transition from academia to the real world, said Frenette.
"They'll have field training for the next 12 weeks. They're paired with mentors to take them through the on-the-job training aspects," he said.
On Wednesday, troopers went through video camera training. They're learning about the equipment, the legal factors behind having a video camera like court testimony.
Morales said it's a way to also keep each other accountable, especially with the state of current events.
"The importance of those is that it helps protect us as an agency, it also helps protect the public, it acts as a type of evidence so if something happens and it's caught on video, it can be brought to court," said Morales. "With Ferguson, going on there's a lot of debate because only the people there know what happened. Well with video cameras, it's a way to show everybody what happened so it puts the public at ease."
Morales said she grew up watching crime shows on television. Her life experience also helped her decided she wanted to go into law enforcement.
"When I started living in my own apartment, I was victim to a few crimes myself and it just gives you a sense of closure when an officer comes and he helps you," said Morales, who was then inspired to pursue a bachelors degree in criminal justice.
Lindeman said while he loved serving as a police officer in Altoona, he wanted to work in a "bigger fish bowl." He loves work surrounding traffic.
"Getting drunks off the road," said Lindeman. "Traffic safety is the focus of the State Patrol and that's what I enjoy doing."
It seems to be a common theme. Morales said she's looking forward to OWI arrests.
"I know there's quite a few of them," said Morales, referring to the number of drunk drivers in Wisconsin.
Frenette said the 12 weeks of field training at the post in Eau Claire is arduous.
"It's length is done for a purpose. We take them from that six months of classroom to 12 weeks of field and they kind of start out on their own independence. There's a lot of layers to that," said Frenette.
The new troopers will be spread across a number of counties during training. Each is assigned a squad car and their own equipment. The 13 troopers join the rankings of 110 personnel with the Wisconsin State Patrol's Northwest Region.