AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texas Department of Public Safety graduated more troopers than it ever has before on Friday.

The A-2021 trooper training class, all 145 of them, were honored at the department’s graduation ceremony Friday at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave the keynote speech at the ceremony, noting trooper tasks expanded over the past year, ranging from responding to social justice demonstrations, to assisting with coronavirus vaccine deliveries, to stationing along the southern border.

“Whatever the challenge, whatever the danger, DPS troopers consistently answer the call, whether it’s stepping up to stop international cartels or being first on the scene at a mass shooting,” Abbott said. “Troopers are the go-to team to protect our state.”

Since the state launched its latest border initiative approximately five months ago, the Texas Department of Public Safety arrested more than 3,500 people and apprehended more than 50,000 illegal immigrants, Abbott explained.

More than one third of the new troopers will be assigned to DPS border regions. All but approximately two-dozen will be assigned to DPS regions either along or adjacent to the border.

“I’m sure they’ll be deployed in a way that interdicts crime throughout the state,” State Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas, said Friday.

Texas Democrats are cautiously optimistic the new batch of law enforcers will be assigned where they are needed.

“We know that the border from El Paso to Brownsville contain some of the safest cities of their size in the entire United States,” Anchía, the chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, said.

“We have places in East Texas and West Texas, elsewhere in the state that need their presence, and I’m sure that the need will drive the deployment,” he added.

Among the new batch of troopers was Zachary Sanchez. His father, Trooper Moises Sanchez was shot and killed in the line of duty in April 2019 after pursuing a suspect who fled from the scene of a crash in the Rio Grande Valley. The attendees gave the new trooper a standing ovation when he walked across the stage. He said he decided to become a trooper to honor his father and serve the state. Sanchez will report to the Andrews duty station.

“He, along with the more than 140 members of this class, represent the next generation of DPS troopers who will tackle the next generation of public safety challenges,” Abbott said.

The new troopers will report to their assigned duty stations on Aug. 23.