Higbee, O’Donnell newest troopers in blue

By: Chris Jackett | Royal Oak Review | Published November 7, 2012

LANSING — With the Michigan State Police’s 123rd Trooper Recruit School graduating 78 new cadets, both Royal Oak and Clawson were represented among the graduates.

Troopers Phillip Higbee, a Clawson native who just moved to St. Clair Shores, and Royal Oak native Michael O’Donnell were among the 92 prospects who began the 19-week training program June 10 and came out as two of the 78 graduates Oct. 19. The recruits then began a 17-week probationary period Oct. 22 with their respective posts for field training.

Higbee, 26, is based within Oak Park’s Metro Post, but is serving his first five weeks patrolling further north in Bruce Township.

“It’s kind of a different animal when you’re out on the road,” Higbee said, noting that he will have two more five-week rotations, including one in Detroit, before a two-week grading period.

That will lead into “re-tread,” which is when the new troopers are sent back to the academy in Lansing for a refresher course for a few weeks that includes new lessons. Higbee said the initial 19-week stint at the academy was very focused.

“It’s like 800 hours of legal,” Higbee said. “They pound laws and legal codes into your head. There’s defensive tactics and water-safety tactics.

“The hugest thing is they gave you scenarios. They gave you a radio and car and had you go pull over that person and watch from afar and gave you pointers afterward.”

Training in firearms, water safety, defensive tactics, patrol techniques, report writing, ethics, first aid, criminal law, crime-scene processing and precision driving were subjects covered during the 19-week course.

“I like the firearms training,” Higbee said, who received the marksmanship award for his class. “From day one to week 19, you had a gun in your hand, learning when to use it and marksmanship.”

A 2010 criminal justice graduate from Western Michigan University, Higbee said he wasn’t working in law enforcement until he got in touch with the state police. He was still working at English Gardens, where he did deliveries and loading for nearly five years when he was home from college.

“After I graduated, I just stayed there until I found something,” Higbee said. “I had a degree and wasn’t using it.”

He was then chosen out of more than 3,000 potential candidates for the 123rd Trooper Recruit School. As of Sept. 1, there were 887 at-post troopers stationed at 29 posts across Michigan, according to the MSP.

“With this graduation, not only do these recruits become troopers, they and their families are now members of our Michigan State Police family and part of a 95-year proud tradition,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, MSP director, during her graduation address to recruits. “You have a mission to serve and protect, because policing is a duty of the highest honor, with the highest responsibilities, the highest visibility and some of the greatest challenges.”

The funding for the 78 new recruits became available as part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s public safety plan, which allowed for the hiring of 180 troopers this year. The 124th Trooper Recruit School began Oct. 28. The additional troopers are set to “help support law enforcement efforts in the state’s most violent cities — Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw, as well as underserved areas throughout the state,” according to an MSP release.

O’Donnell, who did not return several messages seeking comment on his training experience, is based at the MSP’s Flint Post.

For more information on the MSP and the 125th Trooper Recruit School in 2013, visit www.michigan. gov/mspjobs.