Police Recruits ‘put the Cape on' for a Dallas Force That Desperately Needs Them

Dallas police recruit Robert Schmidt paces, fanning himself, his face red and stinging. "Join the police academy, they said. It'll be fun," Schmidt jokes, shaking off pepper spray. He and 35 other Dallas Police Academy recruits were doused as part of nine months of grueling training.The members of Class 354 joined the force at a time when the Dallas Police Department is down about 500 officers. Top brass can't hire fast enough to replace those retiring or quitting amid complaints of poor morale, low pay and an ailing police and fire pension fund. Originally 41 recruits, the class is one of the largest in recent years, and the interim police chief touted them as an answer to the department's retention problems. They graduate Sept. 22 and move on to 21 weeks of field training. But Class 354 has stayed out of the political fight over the state of the Police Department. They still have training exercises to complete and tests to pass.  Continue reading...

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