Derek Harper wasn’t handed the easy path in life, but that wasn’t about to stop him from making his dream of becoming a police officer a reality.

Derek is about to become a third generation Maryland State Trooper in his family, following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, despite the great odds he has faced.

His father is a 28-year veteran of the force. And on Friday, March 22nd, he’ll be waiting on the graduation stage to pin Derek’s gold badge onto his uniform. 

According to a statement by police, “Sgt. Harper said he never once told Derek he wanted him to become a Maryland state trooper. 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 had to undergo multiple surgeries on his legs. (Maryland State Police)


Derek was reportedly diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of three, specifically affecting his lower body. He had trouble walking and balancing and had to endure multiple surgeries at a very young age.

Despite his medical woes, Derek’s parents never discouraged him from trying new things. As a kid, Derek played soccer, t-ball and even ran cross-country. He wore braces for stability, eventually going on to become a cub scout and a member of Civil Air Patrol.


After graduating high school, Derek took the physical fitness test for the Maryland State Trooper test… and passed. He was taken on by MST as a cadet and was assigned to the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division New Market scale house. He passed every single physical fitness test that he faced.

Now, in 2019, Derek will graduate from the academy and will become the third state trooper in his family.

Derek Harper, 21, will become a third-generation state trooper this week.


The state police commented on Derek’s impending induction into the troop.

“He has endured the rigors of a six-month residential police training academy that is known as one of the toughest in the country,” they said. “He enrolled in the concurrent degree program with Frederick Community College and will complete his Associate of Arts degree in criminal justice soon after graduating from the Academy. He has endured the mental, physical and emotional challenges this intense training has presented him with. He has overcome each one.”

His family is in awe of his determination and ability to conquer anything he sets his mind to. When asked what he’ll be thinking when he sees his son walk across the stage at graduation, Sgt. Harper said, “I’ll be thinking: that’s my little boy, who I had to carry around because he couldn’t walk too far. Now, look how far he’s come.”