LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Dozens of recruits who graduated Friday to full-fledged troopers will give a much-needed boost to the ranks of the Michigan State Police, which is at its lowest staffing level since the late 1960s.

The 78 recruits will push the count to 965 troopers at 29 posts across the state. The high point for Michigan State Police trooper employment was 1,344 in 2001.

The last personnel count, done on Sept. 1, showed 887 troopers, the lowest total in more than 40 years, spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said Friday.

This is the first of two trooper schools funded by Gov. Rick Snyder’s public safety plan, which the first-term governor detailed in March. Snyder, the keynote speaker at Friday’s graduation ceremony in Lansing, proposed $15 million for the two schools to graduate 180 new recruits.

“We’re definitely glad to have them. Anytime that you can get new troopers into the field it adds some … vigor to some of our older troopers that can get out there,” said State Police Lt. Michael Shaw. “These young men and women come out there — they’re definitely fired up and ready to help out the state and help out the cities that they’re assigned.”

The next trooper school is to begin later this month. The last batch of new troopers graduated in May last year.

Some of the new troopers will be sent to or near Flint, Detroit, Saginaw and Pontiac, which, according to 2010 data compiled by the FBI, are among the top 10 U.S. cities of more than 50,000 with the worst violent crime rates. The teams will focus on violent crime and crimes that contribute to violent activity, such as arson and the organized theft.

Flint received 15 transfers and will get five new recruits from Friday’s graduation. Saginaw is covered by what is known as the Tri-Cities Post, while Detroit and Pontiac are handled by what is called the Metro Post.

The increase in trooper numbers comes at a time when many Michigan communities have been losing law enforcement officers.

There were 18,784 law enforcement officers last month, down from 22,488 in 2001, according to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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