SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - South Mississippi's highways are becoming safer, thanks to a graduating class of troopers. The most recent class of 57 troopers with the Highway Patrol includes seven that are assigned right here on the Coast.
Five of the troopers are being assigned to patrol Jackson County. That's something that Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell is glad to hear. "This is going to relieve a lot of stress on the whole coast as far as having these guys here and working closely with not only us, but also Harrison County," said Ezell.
Julian Wells is one of the troopers assigned to the Jackson County area. He'll actually be working alongside his brother Jason, a deputy with the Sheriff's Department. The two have deep roots in law enforcement.
Their dad retired from the Jackson County Sheriff's department over a decade ago. "Growing up, that's all we knew. That's what we grew up around. So, we pretty much knew what we wanted to do all our life, we just didn't know which route we would take," said Wells.
They had two other brothers in law enforcement. One of their brothers, Josie Wells, recently died in the line of duty in Baton Rouge. "I think about him everyday. I have one of his U.S. Marshal patches up in my vehicle. It's an honor. I know he would be proud. I know he's proud of both of us," said Wells.
One trooper assigned to Pearl River County, while another is assigned to Hancock County. That trooper is Kyle Paige. "Always had an aspiration to be in law enforcement. But once I started meeting troopers and learning how they conduct themselves and that sort of thing. It definitely brought out a passion in me to be a trooper," said Paige.
He said the 19 weeks of initial training for this role and 12 weeks of field training are not for the faint of heart. "It is rough. You're going to be running anywhere from 10 to 15 miles toward the end of the school. It's a lot of PT. A lot of academics and you have to manage that stress throughout school," he recalled.
He says it's all to make sure these troopers can handle the stress of the job once they're on the highways.
The other troopers headed to Jackson County are Justin Poulos, Bradford Davis, Ramon Gill, and Thomas Hamilton. The trooper assigned to patrol Pearl River County is Christa Groom.
The state is currently accepting applications for another trooper school later this year. Those can be downloaded or picked up at the substations across the state.