Governor Larry Hogan delivered remarks and presented diplomas to the 24 graduates of the 155th Trooper Candidate Class of the Maryland State Police (MSP)—the 12th and final trooper class to graduate during the Hogan administration.
The governor also paid tribute to MSP Superintendent Colonel Woodrow “Jerry” Jones, who is retiring at the end of the year after a 35-year career in law enforcement.
Governor Hogan’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
It is an honor to be here with all of you this morning—the families, distinguished guests, the elite leaders of MSP, and most importantly, the proud members of Class 155.
This is the 12th and final trooper candidate class to graduate, and we have added nearly 500 troopers to MSP since I was governor. Class 155 is also the final class to graduate under the incredible leadership of Colonel Jerry Jones, retiring at the end of the year after a distinguished 35-year career in law enforcement.
As governor, I have often depended on the superintendent’s advice and wise counsel. His leadership helped to make an already great state police organization into what I believe is the finest in the nation.
Colonel Jones, we are deeply grateful for your many decades of dedicated service. It has been an honor to serve with you.
It has been one of the greatest honors of my time as governor to attend these trooper class graduations and to be able to personally thank, congratulate, and welcome so many incredible men and women into the elite ranks of the MSP.
No governor in history has ever had a stronger bond with MSP. A bond that was forged way back in November of 2014 as the election results were coming in and state troopers from the executive protection unit knocked on the door of my hotel suite and said: “Governor, we’re here to protect you.” At that moment, I realized the tremendous responsibility I was assuming and the heroes I would lead.
Our bond was further strengthened in the face of unprecedented challenges. Just 90 days after I was sworn in as governor, the worst violence in 47 years broke out in our largest city of, Baltimore. Four hundred businesses were destroyed, and 170 police officers and firefighters were injured in the first few hours.
We acted swiftly and decisively. I declared a state of emergency and sent in 1,000 troopers, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and 4,000 members of the National Guard into Baltimore. They all stepped up, with no regard for their safety, to quickly restore calm, peace, and law and order to the city.
And on January 6, 2021, after the United States Capitol came under attack, I gave the first order to Colonel Jones to immediately dispatch our MSP mobile field force and engage our local law enforcement agency partners for assistance. Maryland state troopers were among the first to arrive that day, and we are grateful for their bravery and professionalism.
I have been proud to provide record funding for the MSP for eight straight years, including historic salary increases for state troopers. And in 2020, when the ‘defund the police’ movement started gaining momentum, I was one of the first leaders in America to speak out strongly against it immediately.
The reality is that our police are underfunded and under attack, which is why I proposed and enacted a half-a-billion dollar “Re-Fund The Police” Initiative that dramatically increased resources for state and local police.
I am also proud to say that one of my first acts as governor was to reopen the Annapolis barrack in our state capital immediately. Then we built and opened a brand new Cumberland barrack. Just yesterday, at a Board of Public Works meeting, we advanced a $27 million construction contract to replace the aging Berlin barrack with the state-of-the-art facility that MSP deserves.
Every single day, we call on our troopers to stand on the front lines to put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. These are the risks that each of today’s graduates will face when they answer the call to serve.
As I travel across the state nearly every single day, I try to shake the hand of every trooper, law enforcement officer, or first responder that I see to personally and sincerely thank them for their service.
And I have spent the most challenging days in this job sharing tears, prayers, and hugs with the grieving families of our fallen heroes and assuring them that their loved one’s legacy of service and sacrifice will not ever be forgotten.
My time as governor may end next month—but my respect, admiration, and appreciation for the heroes of the MSP will not ever end.
My greatest honor has been serving as your commander-in-chief, and I want every one of today’s graduates—and all of Maryland’s Finest—to know that you have, and will always have, my full support and enduring gratitude.
Thank you for giving me the incredible honor of serving as your governor. You have had my back, and I have been proud to have had your back these past eight years, and I will continue to stand proudly with MSP and every one of you.
Congratulations to the members of Class 155 on your tremendous accomplishment.
On behalf of all the people of a proud and grateful state, we wish each of you success, safety, and godspeed.
May God bless every one of you as you protect and serve, and may God bless the great State of Maryland and the United States of America.
Following his remarks, Colonel Jones named the governor an honorary state trooper and presented him with an official stetson.