PDT Staff Writer
The newest trooper at the Portsmouth Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is no stranger to area roadways.
“I’m originally from Portsmouth, I went to (Portsmouth) West,” Trooper Michael Keating said. “My parents are Steve and Becky Keating.”
Keating said he underwent 24 weeks of training at the Ohio Highway Patrol Academy in Columbus, beginning in September of 2011.
“It was very intense paramilitary type training,” Keating said. “I was never in the military, but some of the guys who were in the academy with me that were military, said it’s like being in boot camp, but with just a lot more classwork. They emphasize physical fitness. You start your day very early, about 5:30, do physical fitness, then go to class. You do details and things like that. There are core values they try to engrain into your using every day. But most of which, those values, are something that you already have, like honesty and things like that, in addition to attention to detail and adaptability.”
Keating said, while training is difficult, it is also rewarding if you want to be there and do that job. He said the training is difficult and fun at the same time. He graduated on Feb. 24 of this year and began training with veteran trooper Nate Lawson. After a 60-day training period, Keating went out on his own.
“It was relatively easy (training Keating) really,” Lawson said. “The academy did a good job of teaching him what he needed to know. That’s basic training. When you get out in the field, it’s different. But they put down a really good foundation. He’s smart and intelligent and aggressive, so it was relatively easy to teach him how to take care of business out on the road.”
Lawson has been with the OSHP since 2001, and while there is now more of an emphasis on making drug and other felony arrests, he has not seen the Patrol mission change over those years.
“I would say our mission has not changed. Our mission is still the same,” Lawson said. “Enforce the law; dedicate, motivate, out there as far as saving people’s lives, and make a difference out there on the highway for Ohio drivers. People across the nation are coming through. Safety for them is paramount. We have modified our work ethic a little bit, due to the higher volume, but the drugs have always been out there. It just has increased.”
Keating said troopers are trained to look for criminal indicators when they pull drivers over for traffic violations.
“You look for anything and everything,” Keating said. “You know when something’s not right. It’s pretty evident. You’ve just got to pay attention to detail. That’s one of the core values they instill in us up at the academy. You look beyond the traffic stop. If something doesn’t seem right it is more than likely not right.”
Both Keating and Lawson talked about their pride in the uniform they wear each day, and the distinctive hat that tells the public they are members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“We’ve got a semi-military structure,” Lawson said. “Most of our troopers are self-motivated. They don’t have to be told to do anything. They do it. We’re not exactly responders. We’re active in going out and achieving. At the Portsmouth Post it’s stirring it up, making it happen before it happens.”
Keating said he would recommend the OSHP as a career for people wanting to get into the law enforcement field.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org