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Amid recent controversies, new Mass. state troopers cautioned to avoid 'irresponsible ... behavior'

New Massachusetts state troopersreceived their badges and took the oath of officeThursday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

Families and fellow police officers came to celebrate the new troopers and the hard physical and academic work it took to get to this day.

Seventy-five cadets were sworn in by Gov. Maura Healey, who thanked the troopers. Healey said she knows the job is going to ask much of them, and of the people they love.

"There will be moments of danger when you have to rely on the training you just received, and rely on fellow troopers," Healey told them. "There will be heartbreaking moments that call for compassion and a determination to see people through."

Modern-day policing comes out of compassion, State Police Colonel John E. Mawn Jr. told the new troopers toward the end of the ceremony.

"When we interviewed you and asked you why you wanted to be a police officer, nearly all of you answered with some form of, 'I want to help people.' That is compassion," Mawn said.

The troopers join the Massachusetts State Police in the shadow of recent controversy, including widespread overtime fraud, ticket tampering and allegedly taking bribes for passing scores on commercial driver's license tests.

Mawn spoke about mistakes the troopers will make. Without being specific, he clarified, "acts of irresponsible and negligent behavior — these are not mistakes. These are not accidents."

When police officers participate in "this type of activity," Mawn said, "society will paint us with a very broad brush, and as a result, the actions of a few will bring discredit and disgrace upon all law enforcement professionals. Never, ever forget that."

Mawn told them that society holds police to a higher standard — as it should, he added.

The new troopers completed six months of intensive physical and academic training in New Braintree. That included courses in criminal and firearms law, sexual assault investigation, domestic violence response and de-escalation techniques.

Among the graduates, 68 are male and seven are female; one-third are persons of color.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."

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