RALEIGH — Raleigh police swore in 58 new graduates Friday. The new officers are desperately needed. They will fill vacancies at the department which have been open for much of the year.
They trained at the police academy for 26 weeks, and Friday afternoon, 58 cadets walked into Memorial Auditorium and walked out as Raleigh Police Officers.
For most of this year, the Raleigh Police Department has dealt with turnover and positions they could not fill.
Critics say the city does not pay its officers enough, and they are looking elsewhere. But Friday, the department is much closer to having a full staff.
"The pay is lousy, the hours are long and the job varies from tedious to terrifying," said Raleigh Police Chief Mitch Brown.
But despite the obstacles, there are people who still want to be police officers like Terri Amos, the mother of three young children.
"I had a lot of moral support, people saying 'you can do it,' helping me along," said Amos.
Fifty-eight graduates of Raleigh's police academy are taking the oath of office.
For those who make it, the sense of pride is overwhelming.
"Relief, a lot of joy, a sense of accomplishment," said police officer Chris Williams.
The department has struggled to fill vacancies.
"This is a great day for the City of Raleigh. It's a great day for the men and women who are graduating, but it's even better for the officers on the street, because they're getting some help," said Sgt. Jeff Fluck of the Police Benevolent Association.
Some say Raleigh has a hard time attracting new officers because of low pay. Brown says it's an age-old dilemma.
"Anyone in the Raleigh Police Department or anyone in law enforcement deserves more than what they're getting," said Brown.
But somehow, Raleigh is still getting young men and women dedicated to public safety.
"We've made it through all the hoops, now it's time to run. We're ready to get out there and do it," said Amos.
The Police Benevolent Association reports that there are still 42 vacancies in the department.
But, Brown says there is a new class of 24 students starting at the academy Monday which will help fill those slots.