New Unit Of State Troopers Ready To Hit The Highways

The highways of South Mississippi will soon be a safer. That's because a new unit of state troopers is being put on the roads.

For most troopers, being a part of the new squad is about more than just writing tickets. At 24, Darris Echols is joining a new crop of Mississippi Highway patrol officers. For him, it's more than just catching drunk drivers and speeders.

"I was raised in the country to be real respectful and to care for others and that's what this job is about, taking care of people," says Echols.

Echols is just one of the eight new Mississippi Highway Patrol Officers.  Each underwent 19 weeks of rigorous training before they were able to officially become a part of the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

The training has changed a bit since veteran Joe Gazzo became an officer.

"It's like a boot camp. They learn law. They box, judo, they fight, it makes them a well rounded trooper that they do all of these things. So when they go out on the road, they know what they are doing. You see these young men who have been through the academy and they are ready to go out and go to work and serve the public. It's very refreshing. It's something you like to see. The ticket aspect is just part of the job. It's all the other stuff that makes it worthwhile," says Gazzo.

The troopers will patrol several counties along the Gulf Coast.  Public Affairs officer Joe Gazzo says the new officers have about two more months until they will be on the roads by themselves.