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St. Lawrence County native returns home to protect and serve as state trooper

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NORFOLK — After 26 weeks of intense state police training in Albany, a Morristown native has returned to St. Lawrence County in hopes of making it a better and safer place.

Sitting at the state police satellite station on Bank Street, Trooper Joshua J. Hunter, 30, said although he has only been out of the Basic School of the New York State Police Academy in Albany, he is no stranger to having to enforce the law.

He said being from the north county is a bonus because some portions of the state are harder to get to. He said areas such as Buffalo or Long Island are hard areas to get stationed at because senior troopers move back there.

“So sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s all in where they place you,” Mr. Hunter said. “It is nice to be able to come back to the area that I grew up in and still live in now. If I can help out in the community, that means a lot to me. When we run into anybody they are typically not at their best, so if I can help them through that, that makes it worth it to me.”

Mr. Hunter, one of the 168 graduates from the academy, said he went in with seven years under his belt as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, all the while longing to wear the gray and purple uniform of the New York State Police.

“I always wanted to be a trooper, and when the opportunity came for state police, I couldn’t say no,” Mr. Hunter said. “The academic, physical and mental challenges and structures that they put on you really drive you to be a better person, so to say I made it through to the end is really a great feeling.”

Additionally, Mr. Hunter was the winner of the Superintendent’s Firearms Proficiency Award.

He proved to be a true sharpshooter during firearms training, where he fired an average score of 250 out of a possible 250, which he attributes to his years hunting as a young man and his seven years with the federal agency.

“It’s a long background so it was nothing new but to learn the state police way. They had new and different weapons, requiring me to handle firearms their way, and I had to break some old habits like stance and my grip on the gun.”

Now, Mr. Hunter has 10 weeks where he will be in the field with an assigned field training offer.

“More or less it puts everything they taught you in the academy together into the real life aspect,” Mr. Hunter said. “They send you with somebody for when it does happen to evaluate how everything goes.”

Trooper Dustin L. Clary has been patrolling the Massena, Norfolk, Madrid and surrounding areas for the last two weeks, with Trooper Hunter quizzing him throughout the day and talking through scenarios including how to get to locations in his patrol area as quickly as possible.

Mr. Clary said during that time, Trooper Hunter’s experience in law enforcement was apparent.

“He is good at talking with people, which is one of the more important things,” Mr. Clary said. “You either have the skill or you don’t, and he has it. It has been engrained in him and he has been doing it for a while, so he has great ability to deal with the public, and that is what we do on a daily basis, so he is off to a good start.”

And it is the start of something that Mr. Hunter said he had never experienced before, a whole new life and the excitement of each new day.

“Now more than ever, I look forward to going to work. I look forward to what the next day is going to bring when I go in,” Mr. Hunter said. “I’ve never had that before. This isn’t a job; it’s more than a career, what I’ve wanted to do forever, so I look forward to it.”

Mr. Hunter still lives in Morristown and will be stationed with Troop B in Massena.

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