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Virginia State Police Today and Tomorrow: Current academy recruits speak on challenges and triumphs

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 6:19 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - It’s an even playing field at the start.

”No matter what you’re going to do somewhere in your career, everyone comes to the academy, everyone goes through the 29-week school,” said senior Virginia State Police Trooper Richard Jarrell.

Currently, the 134th academy is in week 12 of training. There are 44 trainees, each who took a different path in life to get to the academy.

“So I debated a lot of that, between all of the county sheriffs and Roanoke City, because I’m from Buchanan, and then I decided I wanted to broaden my horizons, so with VSP I can go wherever,” said trainee Kaye Woods.

“It just seemed right to come to Virginia,” said trainee Hector Estevez-Delarosa.

Woods and Estevez-Delarosa are going through the process together. Hector is a military police officer from the Dominican Republic, with seven years of service. Kaye has lived in Virginia her entire life, and holds degrees in Criminal Justice.

”VSP just has so many different avenues you can go, so tact team or K-9, all of that within one department, whereas the sheriff’s office you may never get to do that,” said Woods.

”Some of the guys that are here, they have no prior military experience, so I’m kinda like the go-to guy,” said Estevez-Delarosa.

But both took leaps of faith to be where they are.

“That may be the most challenging part, being away from your family, just having two days to go see them and having to leave your kid and wife, and coming back when your daughter says ‘Where are you going, are you going to work,’ that crushes you a little bit, but I have to do what I can for the future of my family,” said Estevez-Delarosa.

Kaye is one of just seven women. She says on a daily basis, she feels respected, but the training can be challenging.

“The other day actually, one of our trainees was like, ‘I don’t know what Kaye does but she does push-ups like no other,’ so that was kinda cool to see transpire, but they want to keep us here just as much as we want to be here,” said Woods.

For Hector, the want to be at academy is deeply rooted.

“I have to provide to this country what this country has provided to me; I’m not gonna say that I’m gonna change the whole broad spectrum of how people see police officers, but I’m definitely going to chip in so they see us a different way,” said Estevez-Delarosa.

For Kaye, the desire to succeed, and for her fellow trainees to succeed, is her priority.

“Once you buy in as a family, it makes the group that much stronger, so that’s a big thing in law enforcement in general, but I see it most because of how we are here,” said Woods.

At the end of 29 weeks, Kaye and Hector will go out on the road for at least two years before choosing a specialty. Right now, they’re both committed, and believe that commitment could influence upcoming trainees.

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