Law enforcement is chosen as a profession by many people for the speed and excitement that is a daily aspect of this career.

Although excitement is definitely a plus for the newest member of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Joe Spychalski named “respect for the law and those who serve it” as the ultimate reason he chose the profession.

He came to this part of the state from Grove, where he graduated from high school in 1986. He attended Connors State College in Warner and then East Central State University, Ada. His major at this time was physical education, with the goal of becoming a coach.

In 1989, Spychalski joined the Army National Guard. One thing led to another and, in 1993, he found himself working with at-risk youth in a group home in Miami and then a boys ranch in Jay. For the past eight years, he has concentrated his work at the Thunderbird Youth Academy in Pryor.

He is also a law enforcement officer in the Air National Guard and has served in this capacity for the last six years.

During his time in the military, he was assigned to Camp Gruber at a time when displaced Hurricane Katrina victims were brought there. He spent much of his time with patrolmen who were stationed there and watching them in action with the hurricane victims.

Watching the relationships that developed between the hurricane victims and the law enforcement personnel led to the biggest decision he would make: to enroll in courses for the OHP.

He attended a 16-week academy in Oklahoma City. This training involved the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training course; defensive driving courses; instruction in firearms and their safety; defensive tactics and physical training.

The biggest challenge of this profession to Spychalski is the physical challenges it presents. He admits at age 39, his body is not as young as it used to be. Although he was the second oldest in his class at the academy, he did not let his age interfere in his desire to become a patrolman.

“Knowing that I had the power to keep a community safe gave me the stamina to complete the rigorous training that is involved with becoming a trooper,” said Spychalski. “I have the utmost respect for people in law enforcement and I was not about to let my age get in the way of that.”

He lives in Glencoe with his wife and six children and is responsible for keeping the Cimarron Turnpike and those who travel it safe.

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