NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The New Orleans Police Department beefed up its ranks Wednesday and made history at the same time. It graduated one recruit class and started another, and the year ahead should see continued progress.
They are members of NOPD Recruit Class 173. In one case, a father pins the badge for the first time on his son.
"He will be a sixth-generation Eskine on NOPD, with my grandfather starting in 1923," said
Michael Eskine, a 25-year NOPD veteran.
"The model that he has built me into, and showed me how to be such a great compassionate person, that I can give to the people of New Orleans," said Colin Eskine.
In another case, an NOPD husband places the badge on his wife for the first time.
"It meant a lot. I was trying to hold the tears in," said Marqueta Carter.
The job comes with a fair amount of worry.
"My advice would be what any officer would say: Don't get complacent," said Tristan Carter.
Today's graduation brings troop strength to 1,157 officers.
"Manpower is an issue, we know it, but this year, we hired more than we lost," said Superintendent Michael Harrison.
While it was an historic day for the department, next year is expected to be historic, as well.
"We hope to hire 150 officers, and if we continue at 30 per class, should be at five classes," said Harrison.
That would be a record number of classes and new officers for a department that took it on the chin this year for the highest murder rate in three years and slow response times.
"You will see us unveil a new plan in the new year, but it's always about smart deployment," said Harrison.
Seven of the new officers were recruited from out of state, and those with family on the force go in with eyes wide open.
"My husband doing the job gives me insight on how hard it is, but I'm a strong person, I'm equipped," said Marqueta.
"Policing runs through our blood, six generations, speaks to the kind of family we are," said Colin.
They are ready to hit the streets to join the fight to keep loved ones and citizens safe in a department trying to rebuild. Next year's goal of five recruiting classes will take about 20 officers off the streets to train new officers.
The training is more labor intensive than ever due to guidelines in place under the federal consent decree.