The Dallas Police Department on Wednesday welcomed its largest ever recruit class to the Dallas Police Academy.
There are 82 members of Academy class 368, each of whom has already successfully completed a psychological examination, a polygraph, a physical fitness test, a criminal background check and an interview.
"By day one, we want you to understand that you went through a very difficult process to get the seat that you have here today," said Major Irene Alanis, who oversees the Academy and recruiting for the department. "We do expect each individual [in the recruit class] to take it seriously so that they will respect and honor the job that they are hopefully going to obtain if they make it to graduation."
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The Dallas Police Department has been dealing with dwindling numbers within its ranks. Reasons for the decline in police officers can be attributed to early retirements, defections to neighboring departments that have traditionally offered better pay and less crime to combat, and a variety of other, individual reasons.
A recent report commissioned by the city council noted that the Dallas Police Department needs to add as many as 700 officers to meet its ideal staffing level.
Kristina Ramos, of Midlothian, left her career as a math and science teacher to become one of the recruits from class 368. She will spend the next 36 weeks training to become a Dallas police officer.
"It is something deep down I've always wanted to do,” said Ramos about becoming a police officer. "I have just seen cops and how big of a difference they can make in the community. I have always been interested."
Like Ramos, police work will be a second career for classmate Broderick Scott, of Wolfe City in Hunt County. Scott previously worked as a juvenile probation officer before he graduated from college and set out to become an officer of the law.
"It means a lot," Scott said about being part of the largest recruiting class in the department’s history. "I think that there are high expectations with this class. I definitely want every one of my classmates to graduate, to get out there and make an impact for the great city of Dallas."