Police departments across New Jersey have been hit hard by layoffs over the past few years, due to budget cuts in a crippled economy.
The effects of the recession linger, but one law-enforcement agency in the state is actually hiring.
New Jersey State Police announced Wednesday that they will begin accepting applications next month from candidates who want to be state troopers. As many as 225 spots will be available when two State Police academy classes commence training next spring.
The application period runs online from May 7 to 29. This is the first time the state police have accepted applications since February 2010. The most recent class of state troopers graduated this past January, adding 85 to the ranks.
State Police Superintendent Col. Joseph R. Fuentes and state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa made the announcement about new hiring Wednesday afternoon at in Blackwood.
A large number of current troopers are approaching the 25-year mark and are set to retire within the next two to three years, which has created the opportunity for new hires, Chiesa said during a press conference at the school.
State police will be actively recruiting in various communities over the next two months, he said.
He also said a job as a state trooper could be a great opportunity for those who've already worked in the field.
"We realize the value of the experience of laid-off police officers in New Jersey, and of military veterans," Chiesa said.
Fuentes and Chiesa said the agency is making a concerted effort to recruit more minorities and women into the state police ranks.
Of the 2,745 troopers currently employed by the agency, 82 percent are white, and only 113 of them are female.
"It's not lost on us that the State Police needs to look like they community they serve," said Lt. Col. Debra Baker, the agency's deputy superintendent of administration.
In addition to patroling the state's highways, troopers also provide part- or full-time police service in 91 of New Jersey's 566 municipalities.
There are more than 120 career paths within the state police, Fuentes said, including marine law enforcement, forensics and cyber crimes.
The current starting salary for a trooper is $62,403.60, including allowances.
For more information, or to submit an applciation, go to the state police's recruiting site.