The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is announcing plans to continue the 66th Academy remotely out of an abundance of caution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Academy started on Feb. 28 with 97 cadets and is now down to 67 cadets. Traditionally, during an academy, the cadets live on the third deck of the Robert R. Lester Training Center on the Department of Public Safety campus. Because of concerns with the close quarters and CDC guidelines on limiting large gatherings, the department has decided to send the cadets home on Friday, March 20.
Cadets will receive daily fitness requirements online and are expected to keep up with the regimen already started in the Academy. They will also be taking classes online. The curriculum standards and requirements set forth by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training as well as by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol will not be diminished in any way.
"This is uncharted territory for everyone. We've always had to be mindful of illness and infection during academies with so many people living in close quarters, but this latest concern takes it to a whole new level," said OHP Chief Brent Sugg. "We have always prided ourselves on the intensity of our Academy and how it prepares cadets to become troopers. We will maintain the quality of instruction for this class of cadets and they will graduate just as prepared to patrol the roads as any other class."
"This is a temporary solution for the uncertain times we're facing right now," said DPS Commissioner John Scully. "Fortunately, advances in technology allow us to continue cadet training in a non-traditional manner. We will bring the cadets back to the classroom environment when health experts determine the threat of exposure is reduced. We will be evaluating the decision on a daily basis to determine when it might be appropriate to have cadets come back and continue the Academy in a traditional fashion."
The 66th Academy is scheduled to graduate on July 16. That date could get pushed out in light of the recent developments.