S/Lt. Gary Allen
I grew up in Xenia, Ohio, and even as a young boy; I always wanted to be a “crime fighter”. I have always felt that it is important to protect others, if you are able, and set a good example for your community.
After graduating from Xenia High School, and working several different jobs, I was very dissatisfied and uncertain of my future. During this time period there was no pressure for me to attend a college and the general idea for everyone was to work in a job and retire when you were done. I really wanted more. I was working at a local fast food restaurant sweeping the parking lot one day when a Highway Patrol cruiser pulled up and a trooper asked me, “Do you like sweeping this lot?” Of course, the answer was, ”No.”
We talked and he convinced me to take the examination to become a cadet dispatcher. He told me I was a good candidate because I had never used drugs, didn’t consume any alcohol and had a strong work ethic. That was a result of great parents (that gave me few options). I always had an interest in law enforcement but I knew nothing about becoming an officer. I only knew two African American police officers and zero black troopers. My father always told me that if I wanted to be in law enforcement that I had to be a trooper because they were the best.
I must admit, I didn’t apply myself to that examination and I believe that self-doubt was my greatest enemy that day. My father wanted to see the Academy so he drove me to Columbus and waited for me in the parking lot. After walking in the Academy I was so intimidated that I thought, “There is no way.” The troopers were so impressive. Needless to say, I took the exam and I didn’t pass.
Afterwards I was a bit discouraged so I talked with my dad and decided to follow in his footsteps and join the United States Army. I probably needed to grow up and I really wanted to start a path for my future. I took the test, passed, and left three days later. That was abrupt, but since I didn’t go to college right away, I knew that if I didn’t take a chance I wouldn’t achieve my goals.
I completed basic and advanced training and was stationed with the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. That was my first taste of being one of the best - not to mention being part of a great tradition. This experience not only changed my life, but I know it was a defining period. The Army made me tap into many of the traits that I have used throughout my career as a state trooper.
Three years later, when the time came for me to exit or reenlist in the Army I had a dilemma; do I stay a soldier or look for another job? My grandfather passed away three months before I was about to make my decision so I went home for his funeral. My father recommended that I visit Lt. Ralph Fussner, the Xenia Patrol Post Commander. I had matured and gained the confidence in myself that I needed to be a viable candidate. Subsequently, I took the entrance examination again and this time I passed. Since I loved the Army I decided to join the Ohio Army National Guard instead of active duty service.
I had passed the entrance examination but had failed height/weight portion of the testing. According to the instructor I needed to lose almost 30 pounds!! That was a no-brainer - I decided to lose the weight so I could be in top condition when I entered the Academy. So I started working out twice a day and was able to drop the weight in approximately two months. Everyone at the Academy commended me when I went for my final weigh in, and I always appreciated their support.
After passing the background investigation, I was hired as a cadet dispatcher for six months. I also got married and my first son was born a month before I entered the Academy. I missed them, but I was determined to be the man my family expected me to become - anything less was irresponsible in my book.
I graduated from the OSP Academy in November 1989 and for the second time in my life I knew that I was one of “the best”. I still recall the look on my wife’s and parent’s faces that day in November when I first wore that uniform. My first assignment was in Chillicothe, Ohio. I had never been there, never heard of it and was really nervous about going. The calming factor was my Field Training Officer, Sgt. Brady Turner. From the very first time I met him we “hit it off”. He was a hard charger and pushed me to excel. He has since retired but we are still the best of friends. Within three months I knew that I had made the correct career choice. I was fortunate enough to train three troopers by the time I had reached the five-year mark and, despite being a lot of work, I learned as much as they did.
In 1995, I was promoted to the rank of sergeant and transferred to the Jackson Patrol Post before returning to Chillicothe in 1999. In 2000, I was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and moved to the Columbus area.
I have been fortunate to serve in several different capacities to include command of the Recruitment and Minority Relations Section, post commander at the Lancaster and Granville Patrol Posts and assistant commander of the Columbus District. I have gained invaluable knowledge, experience and education in each position held.
My wife has always been so supportive of this career choice and that is very important. Because when you join the Highway Patrol it is not an individual decision, it affects your entire family.
The Ohio State Patrol stresses fellowship and allows you to forge lifelong relationships with amazing people. I have met state troopers from many different states and it is amazing how we are all the same in so many aspects.
training, educational benefits, and esprit de corps is second to none.
It also provides career opportunities that can’t be found in many
other agencies. The Ohio State Highway Patrol is a difficult agency to
join because of the stringent standards but should you meet the challenge,
you’ll be glad you did.