Oklahoma City adds 46 police recruits
Oklahoma City now has 46 men and women patrolling the streets with freshly minted badges.
Police Recruit Class 134 graduated Thursday from the academy.
A total of 54 recruits entered on Aug. 28, and 46 crossed the stage of the First United Methodist Church after the 30-week academy. Forty-four are men and two are women. The youngest is 22 years old.
The oldest member of the academy, who spent more than two decades in the armed forces and as a contractor, spoke on behalf of his fellow recruits before the class plaque was unveiled.
James Herlihy, 44, gave a speech that oscillated between praising and roasting his fellow officers.
"I can also see a lot of you staring at our class. You've been staring at us since we walked in. I can only imagine what you're thinking. 'Are they celebrating Halloween early?' 'Is it bring your kid to work day?' No, that's recruit [Ryan] Brown," he quipped about one of the youthful-looking graduates.
"In my mind, I'm still in my 20s. But then I wake up every morning and my body reminds me of how old I really am. With the majority of the class in their 20s, it's been challenging to say the least. But I can tell you that I've seen them mature and grow into very courteous and respectful men and women during the past seven months, or 135 days, or 1,238 hours or however you want to break down the time we spent in the academy," Herlihy said.
His speech came after the recruits had their badges pinned to their uniforms. Most received their badges from Police Chief Bill Citty, but a number had theirs placed by family members who have previously served in the police service. Five class members are second-generation Oklahoma City police officers.
The guest speaker at the ceremony was Andrew M. Coats, former mayor of Oklahoma City and dean emeritus of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Also the former Oklahoma County district attorney, Coats spoke of the challenges facing a new generation of law officers in a time of heightened distrust and scrutiny of police action.
"We extend the warmest congratulations on graduation from the academy. You have kept the faith. You have finished the course. You were selected where others were turned away. You have succeeded where others have failed. You may be justifiably proud of your accomplishments. Today we honor you for a job well done. You're coming into as fine a police department, a police service, as any in the country," he said.
"You come at a time of significant challenge for all law enforcement. The tensions that exist today between the citizenry and the police across our country is, in my lifetime, unprecedented. The '60s were tough and the '70s were tough, but this time it seems to me, is the most difficult," Coats said.
"The vast majority of peace officers do their job quietly and effectively every day. But we all know that because of a few who abuse their power, who use more force and violence than the situation called for or were careless in the discharge of their firearms, the trust that we place in our police has been somewhat fractured."
"Things are better in Oklahoma City," Coats said. "For the most part, the storm has passed us by, and that's mostly attributed to the quality of law enforcement that our officers utilize."
Before the department chaplain gave the benediction ending the ceremony, Citty led the recruits in the oath.
The newly-sworn recruits now begin the field training officer program, where each will ride with an experienced officer and continue training for a minimum of five months.