NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "When your life is in danger and other citizens' lives are in danger, this is no comparison to what it will be like when the real thing happens. We are preparing you to survive and save other people's lives along with saving your own," NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said.
Less than 24 hours after a gunman targeted and shots six law enforcement officers, killing three of them, 32 men and women showed up to become the newest members of the New Orleans Police Department.
"We knew that we had 32 people scheduled to be here today, and all 32 showed up. It says a lot about them. It says a lot about the profession," Harrison said.
Harrison said it's more than a challenge for the recruits - it's a calling.
Rachel Willey is 26 years old, a Navy veteran and married to an active-duty sailor.
"I want to continue to serve and make a difference," Willey said.
She called the recent ambush on police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas terrible, but it didn't deter her from wanting to wear the uniform.
"If anything, that motivated me to join to continue to make a difference in the community," Willey said.
"There are some people in this world that are called to serve, to sacrifice and to run to the fire," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Personally shaking each of their hands, Landrieu and Harrison said the next 26 weeks will be grueling for each of the recruits. Of the 28 men and four women, 10 are from out of state and 13 are military veterans.
"It's just mind over matter and you take it one day at a time," Willey said.
"On graduation day, we better have 32 people, because we don't give up," Harrison said.
Willey said she believes there's something special about Class 177.
"Because we all have the heart to be here," she said.
This class bring the NOPD's manpower to 1,180.