About 3700 applied. Of that pool, 142 invitations were sent. Friday morning only 102 cadets took the oath and a badge as a Texas State Trooper.
Gov. Greg Abbott noted 41 of the 102 will be assigned to the Texas border. They're among 250 new trooper positions authorized by the legislature. But Abbott said -the entire class shares that mission.
"So it doesn't matter if you are located in the Rio Grande Valley or up in Amarillo, Texas or in Austin, Dallas, Houston, or any place across the state of Texas you are going to be involved in our collective process of making Texas a safer place because of the challenges we deal with on the border,” said Governor Abbott.
Ileen Torres, one of the 41, is heading to Falfurrias in Brooks County. FOX 7, last year, documented how that area is a hot zone for human trafficking -- high speed chases with smugglers - and stash houses to hide undocumented immigrants. Despite the danger, Torres' mom, Aminta Vasquez, was not worried about her daughter’s assignment.
"She is very disciplined, and she is a very kind person, so I know she will do very good,” said Vasquez.
In theory the new Troopers, who report after the first of the New Year, will help ease the pressure on those who already wear the badge. Troopers from across the state have been rotated back and forth to the border for the past year. Critics say the use of additional Troopers, along with the National Guard which was deployed last year, are a misuse of resources. In a recent FOX 7 special report, Bill Gravell, a Williamson County Justice of the Peace, argued fewer troopers in central Texas contributed to an increase in traffic accidents.
"My question is what costs are we willing to pay? Is 85 not enough? Do we need 100 people to die on our roads? Do we need 200? Do we need 500? When are we going to decide to bring our troopers back home to fulfill their mission,” asked Gravell.
DPS commanders disputed Gravell’s assessment and Governor Abbott also dismissed accusations the new troopers will only be writing tickets and harassing people.
"Actually what the troopers are doing is helping interdict cross border activity, but we also see tangible results by the cartels, by them taking their business elsewhere because of the increased border presence, so what we have there already is having affect, but also the additional forces will have an even greater effect,” said Governor Abbott.
The Governor also didn't indicate if these additional troopers will actually help bring an end to the National Guard deployment. Earlier this week he extended the Guard's stay in south Texas.