By PoliceOne Staff

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — A Maryland trooper candidate with cerebral palsy will graduate from his police academy on Friday.

Derek Harper will become a third-generation trooper in his family, WJZ reports. His father, 28-year veteran Sgt. David Harper will be waiting for him as he crosses the stage to pin a gold badge on his uniform.

His grandfather is also a state trooper.

“Sgt. Harper said he never once told Derek he wanted him to become a Maryland state trooper,” state police said in a statement. “He said his son first indicated he might want to follow in his father and grandfather’s career choice when he was in middle school.”

Derek was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age three and has faced several obstacles throughout his life. He initially got shots in his legs and wore braces to help him balance, then, in 2007, had a major surgery on his legs that had him in casts for six weeks. Even with the challenges, he was an active child and participated in sports like T-ball and soccer.

When he graduated high school in 2016, he passed a physical fitness test and was hired as a cadet with the Maryland State Police. He was assigned to the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division New Market scale house and continuously passed his physical tests.

Derek joined Maryland State Police Academy Class 148 in September 2018.

“He has endured the rigors of a six-month residential police training academy that is known as one of the toughest in the country,” state police officials said. “He has endured the mental, physical and emotional challenges this intense training has presented him with. He has overcome each one.”

The new trooper will also complete his Associate of Arts degree in criminal justice soon after graduating from the academy.

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