The Massachusetts State Police Training Academy's current recruit class is experiencing an historic dropout rate as the agency struggles attracting new troopers.
The 89th recruit training troop has seen an attrition rate of 46%—50% women, 45% men—among those who wanted to join law enforcement to protect and serve, WBTS-TV reports. The top three reasons for recruits leaving were medical or injury, unprepared physically and/or mentally and wrong career choice.
The normal attrition rate for recruits is between 25% to 33%.
"One reason that is jumping out for us for the 89th—and it’s a statistically significant number—is that candidates that are resigning and telling us that this profession is just not something they’re interested in doing anymore," said Maj. Jon Provost, the deputy division commander of training.
The majority of recruits who have dropped out left the academy in the first two weeks. This coincides with the academy's most physically and mentally intense period.
“We call it stress exposure resiliency training," said Provost. "It’s very scientific based. It’s hectic to see. It’s extreme to participate in. We need them functioning and making good decisions while under stress, so we’re exposing them to that here and we are constantly evaluating how they handle that.”
This training is loud with instructors shouting a bevy of orders, according to drill instructor Gina Pedro. But she adds that once recruits are on the job, it becomes clear why the training is so intense.
“You understand why they held you to such uncompromising standards," said Pedro. "It was so you're safe once you’re on the road."
Although Provost was tapped to lead the academy following an unauthorized exercise in 2022 that injured 20 recruits, he didn't think the intensity of training should be minimized.
“We’re not going to be able to remove stress from law enforcement, from policing. We’re not going to be able to remove stress from the world but our function, our public service function has to be delivered professionally, even under high stress circumstances.”
One positive development from the academy's losses: Some recruits who dropped out have asked to try again during the next class.