DENVER - A total of 29 new Denver police officers graduated Wednesday in the first academy class in five years. Budget constraints prohibited the city from hiring new police officers.
The graduates will be able to hit the streets on their own in the next few months. Thirty-five more will graduate in early November.
9NEWS crime and justice reporter Anastasiya Bolton has reported on the issue of the Denver Police Department not having enough officers in the past and attended the graduate ceremony.
Attrition and retirement decreased the number of officers serving. As of now, DPD has 1,334 officers, not including the new graduates. The number should be at 1,426 officers.
The DPD hopes to be back to that number by sometime in 2015.
Graduate Jose Diaz moved to Colorado from New Jersey to become a police officer in 2008. He received an acceptance letter, but the academy was called off.
Diaz stuck around and volunteered with DPD while waiting for them to start hiring again. He was among those who graduated Wednesday.
"I grew up back east in New Jersey. [I] had kind of a negative experience with the police," Diaz said. "As I got older, I got into public service. [I] just wanted to change it up and assist in something that I wanted to do, which is make it better."
"It's great news for the community," Denver Police Chief Robert White said. "Obviously we've got a lot of publicity as it relates to response time, and despite the many changes we've done to mitigate that, nothing substitutes the men and women in blue. We'll do a much better job as a department responding to the many calls the citizens expect for us to respond to."
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)