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Alton man graduates State Police Academy

John Alexander Williamson of Alton was among the graduates from the Virginia State Police’s largest class Friday at commencement exercises held at Meadow Event Park in Doswell in Caroline County. Williamson, the son of Betty Williamson of Alton and the late Alex Williamson, was among the 108 men and women who were presented their diplomas as the commonwealth’s newest generation of state troopers.

Williamson has been assigned to Mecklenburg County.

Observing its 80th anniversary, commencement exercises for the 117th Basic Session were moved from the traditional location of the Virginia State Police campus in Chesterfield County because of the record size of the class and for the safety and comfort of attendees.

Friday’s graduation also marked the official conversion of the Department’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer (CVEO) position to trooper.

Eighty of the graduates are members of the 117th Basic Session, and 28 are former CVEOs. The CVEOs took part in a special 12-week “CVEO-to-Trooper Conversion School.”

All of the CVEOs are existing, uniformed VSP employees assigned to Virginia Motor Carrier Service Centers (weigh stations) across the commonwealth. The additional academy training allows the CVEOs to convert to the rank of trooper, thus allowing the state police to add 28 more troopers to patrol duties on Virginia’s highways.

The 117th started a demanding 36-week training session June 27. In the last eight months, the new troopers have received 1,800 hours of classroom and field instruction encompassing more than 100 different subjects.

The 117th is the first class to receive 16 hours of intermediate criminal investigation training. Additional subjects included judicial procedures, juvenile and traffic law, firearms, self-defense, crowd control and first-aid, to name a few.

The final phase of training begins today when the new troopers report for their first duty assignments.

For a minimum of six weeks, every member of the 117th is partnered with a field training officer (FTO) in order to learn his or her new patrol area and day-to-day duties.

The graduating troopers come from every corner of the commonwealth, as well as Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. Also unique to this class is the number of those born outside the country, to include Brazil, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ghana, Philippines and South Korea.

Prior to starting a career with the Virginia State Police, many of the new troopers served with other law enforcement agencies and/or with a branch of the military.

The 117th yields more than 62 years of law enforcement and corrections experience, as well as an impressive 124 years of prior military service.

As the need for highly-skilled and capable law enforcement professionals continues, the department is currently seeking qualified applicants for the position of trooper.

All interested applicants are encouraged to contact the Virginia State Police Recruitment Office at the toll-free number 1-866-877-2329 or visit the Department’s web site www.vsp.virginia.gov.