Photo Brooks
Tpr. Michael Brooks

Trooper Michael Brooks joined the Patrol in January 1992 as a member of the 122nd Academy class. He earned his commission that June and was assigned to the Chardon Post. In April 2000 he transferred to the Aviation Unit. Later that year he transferred to the West Jefferson Post. He transferred back to the Aviation Unit in July 2001. Originally of Shaker Heights, Tpr. Brooks currently resides in Westerville.
 

In My Own Words

In 1984 I graduated from high school in a suburb of Cleveland. I signed up for the Navy’s nuclear power program, but later decided that I would rather go to school. I then went to Cleveland State University for a year, and decided that I wanted to get a little further away from home. Wright State University near Dayton fit the bill and I majored in electrical engineering, and signed up for Air Force ROTC. As with most people attending college, I changed my major a couple of times, and then foolishly dropped out of college, and ROTC. A huge mistake on both parts. So what does a college drop out, with pending loans, and other bills do……time to get a job.

With no sales or customer service experience, I applied for a sales position at a Dayton area car dealership. Much to my surprise they hired me. It was an ok job, with the potential to make quite a bit of money. I didn’t get much personal satisfaction out of it, and as a result I wasn’t very good at it. On the other hand I wasn’t selling Ferraris either. After about a year I decided that I had enough, and decided to move home to Cleveland. I still had bills to pay, and began working two jobs to make ends meet. I worked as a security guard at an industrial plant, and ran a 1hr photo lab at a local drug store. Both of these jobs offered career paths to higher corporate levels since they were both large companies, but it just wasn’t for me. When I left Wright State I already had my private pilots license and always wanted to fly, but I couldn’t afford the advanced training required to get a job as a professional pilot. It was time to look for a career.

Being a security guard is not like being a law enforcement officer, but there are some similarities. This caused me to wonder if there was a way to combine a career in law enforcement with my desire to fly. My initial research revealed that most law enforcement agencies only operated helicopters and/or required the more advanced ratings that I did not have. I then recalled an event that had taken place when I was much younger. I was traveling with my mother and stepfather when we were stopped by an officer for speeding. 66 in a 55 zone, way back when all freeways were 55mph zones. My stepfather was upset and asked the officer how he knew he was speeding even though my stepfather never saw the officer. The officer smiled and pointed to an airplane circling overhead; needless to say my stepfather was less than thrilled. The officer was an Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper. The Highway Patrol is a law enforcement agency that operates airplanes, and only requires a private pilots license. Can you see the light come on!?!

In 1990, I went to the local office that I now know as Cleveland Operations, and submitted an application. There were many hurdles to cross, a written test, background investigation, polygraph, and physical/agility test. As luck would have it my car broke down on the way to my written test, and I couldn’t take the test that day, but they were nice enough to let me reschedule. The entire process for me took about a year and a half, during which time I frequently called the recruiting office to check the status of my application. Sometimes I think they hired me so I wouldn’t call them anymore. I entered the Highway Patrol Academy in January 1992, and graduated that June.

My first post assignment was at the Chardon post. Hope you like snow, and lots of it! I spent 8+ years there doing what I could to help make our roads safer. Helping disabled motorists, arresting drunk drivers, investigating traffic crashes, and enforcing traffic laws.

Through the years, and snowstorms, I never lost my desire to fly, and in April 2000 I became the first black pilot in the history of the Highway Patrol. I now fly airplanes, and helicopters worth up to $2 million dollars in support of the Highway Patrol’s traffic safety mission. Some people tell me it’s the best job in the Patrol, and I agree.

Being a minority in the Highway Patrol is much the same as the rest of society, race issues are the exception, not the rule. Race should not be a factor in your decision to become a Trooper. As you can see I certainly followed a rocky road to get here, the fact that I am a minority didn’t have anything to do with my decision to become a Trooper.

The Highway Patrol will provide you with a wide range of law enforcement career paths, as well as great benefits, and good pay. If you have the desire to help maintain a safer society, a genuine interest in helping others, and the drive to be a member of one of the best law enforcement agencies in the country then submit your application, and accept the challenges that come with it!

 

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