Raul Garcia Jr., of Robstown, recently graduated from the Texas Department of Public Safety's Training Academy.

"I congratulatre the 138th class of graduates," said State Rep. Tommy Merritt of Longview, who was the keynote speaker at the Oct. 9 graduation.

"Every day state troopers are protecting our citizens utilizing the valuable skills you gained in the training academy," Merritt said. "You are joining the finest state law enforcement agency in our nation."

Garcia, along with his fellow graduates, began the 28-week training academy in March. Instruction covered more than 100 subjects, including counter-terrorism, traffic and criminal law, arrest and control procedures, accident reconstruction, first aid and Spanish. They also received extensive use of force, communication skills, firearms, driving, criminal interdiction, cultural diversity and physical fitness training.

Steven C. McGraw, director of the DPS, told the graduates that he has high expectations for their performance.

"You are joining an elite group today, and I expect you to conduct yourself with the utmost integrity," McCraw said. "Welcome to the best law enforcement agency in the United States."

In about two weeks, Garcia and the other troopers will move to their new duty stations. They will spend the first six months in on-the-job training with a senior trooper.

Public Safety Commission chairman Allan Polunsky also congratulated the graduates.

"Thank each and every one of you for your commitment to serve in law enforcement," he said. "Be safe, be vigilant and full of pride during your service with this distinguished department."

Anyone interested in becoming a state trooper can call the department's toll-free line at (866) TXTROOP (898-7667), or visit the DPS Web site at www.txdps.state.tx.us for more information.

Garcia will be assigned to the Texas Highway Patrol in George West.