Twenty-one Arkansas State Police Recruits received their trooper commissions Thursday during a graduation ceremony in the rotunda of the state capitol.

The graduates were among an initial field of 227 applicants who were tested and interviewed during 2021. On January 23, 38 recruits assembled at the state police training academy in Little Rock to form Recruit Class 2022-A and began a rigorous 21 week-long training stint.

The graduates received 1,160 hours of specialized instruction in the academy classrooms and through practical training exercises outside the classroom. The graduates were sworn under oath as Arkansas State Troopers by North Little Rock District Judge Randy Morley.

Lieutenant Colonel Shawn Garner, Deputy Director of Enforcement for the Arkansas State Police and Jami Cook, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety addressed the class. State police senior command staff, troop and company commanders, the training section cadre and Arkansas State Police commissioners were among those attending the graduation.

The recruit graduates and their first post assignments are:

Brandon Neal, 29, 2022-A Class Leader, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County. He is a graduate of Vilonia High School and Drury University in Chicago.

Zoey Baldwin, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, Johnson County. She is a graduate of Russellville High School and Arkansas Tech University.

John Bucher, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Woodruff County. He is a graduate of Russellville High School.

Ana Elisa Escamilla, 28, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County. She is a graduate of Warren High School.

Aaron Killian, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County. He is a graduate of Lakeside High School (Garland County).

Peter Kootz, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, White County. He is a homeschool graduate from Sharp County and a graduate of Lyon College.

Jessica McCord, 28, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County. She is a graduate of Lake Hamilton High School, Marion Military Institute and Southern New Hampshire University.

Zachary Means, 24, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop E, Desha County. He is a graduate of Carlisle High School.

Caleb Miller, 23, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, Benton County. He is a graduate of Siloam Springs High School.

Shabby Moore, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Union County. He is a graduate of Ville Platte (Louisiana) High School.

Cade Padgett, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, Perry County. He is a graduate of Danville High School.

Solomon Phifer, 30, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, Miller County. He is a graduate of Crossett High School, University of Arkansas (Little Rock) and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tennessee.

Candice Pike, 38, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop I, Searcy County. She is a graduate of Clinton High School.

Grant Pruitt, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop C, Mississippi County. He is a graduate of Elkins High School.

Landan Reather, 23, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop H, Sebastian County. He is a graduate of Mansfield High School.

Tyree Sampson, 29, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop K, Garland County. He is a graduate of Hot Springs High School and National Park College in Hot Springs.

Jackson Shumate, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County. He is a graduate of Sherman (Texas) High School.
Gavin Chance Taylor, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Monroe County. He is a graduate of Hazen High School.

Connor Vrooman, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, White County. He is a graduate of Searcy High School and Arkansas State University (Beebe).

Daniel Walcott, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, Van Buren County. He is a graduate of Penn Foster High School (Scranton, Pennsylvania).

Christopher Weatherly, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County. He is a graduate of Cabot High School and the University of Arkansas (Little Rock).

Special recognition and awards were presented to the recruits who attained the highest overall academy scores within the respective curriculum and training categories:

ACADEMICS

1st place – Jessica McCord

2nd place – Peter Kootz

3rd place – Brandon Neal

PHYSICAL FITNESS

1st place – Brandon Neal

2nd place – John Bucher

3rd place – Cade Padgett

FIREARMS

1st place – Peter Kootz

2nd place – Chaice Weatherly

3rd place – Zoey Baldwin

Over the next month the new troopers will begin reporting to their respective assignments across the state. They will receive an additional five to nine weeks of instruction working alongside a field training officer before being released from their training regimen.