Nineteen new Albany police recruits received their badges during a swearing-in ceremony Thursday at City Hall.
Fourteen men and five women were sworn in as police officers before reporting to the Albany police academy. Mayor Kathy Sheehan: "The women and men who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe are the ultimate public servants. And I want to assure you new recruits that you are joining a department that embraces a spirit of service, of being a part of our community, of building trust with our residents, in a time when it can feel as though law enforcement is under siege."
New Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins welcomed the families and friends of the new officers. "We're glad that you're here to support these young men and women as they embark on this very exciting journey in their lives."
Hawkins pointed out that the recruits went through a very long hiring process. :We're very very selective of who's allowed to represent the Albany Police Department in our community."
Speaking with reporters after the ceremony, Hawkins said one of the qualities the department looks for in recruits is interpersonal communications skills. "If we can have new officers who have the capacity to communicate at high levels, then we can minimize a lot of the issues and problems and complaints that we've seen about law enforcement, not just here but across the country. And what I'm so proud of is that our training staff did exactly that.
Mayor Sheehan says the APD has made a commitment to diversity. "This class reflected a significant amount of diversity and it's something that we need to continue to focus on. You know we're constantly looking for new ways to reach out and recruit people from the community that are representative of the community, but you know this is again I think a continuation of our commitment to making sure that our police department reflects the community in which they're policing."
This is the third class to enter the academy. Despite the added personnel, Sheehan says the police department remains understaffed by about 20 positions, with levels of policing maintained through granting overtime.