Mayor Byron W. Brown scanned the fresh-faced Buffalo police recruits and offered words of optimism that rang with a bit of a challenge.
“I look forward to seeing all of you in six months being sworn in,” the mayor said. “I expect each and every one of you to make it through the academy.”
Out of the nearly 500 names on the initial police list, 19 people – 11 men, eight women – made it to Friday’s swearing-in at Buffalo Police Headquarters and can now officially call themselves recruits.
If they make it out of the six-month police academy, they’ll attend another swearing-in – this time making them full-fledged officers.
“I guess you could call it a boot camp for officers,” Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said of the academy. “We have six months of training where they’ll go through everything from the penal law to criminal procedure law, physical training, defensive driving, defensive tactics, shooting, on and on and on.
“And in six months when they come out, they go through field training, officer training … then they get put out on the street at some point by themselves. We’re about a year away before you see these officers out working by themselves.”
Derenda said that normally all but one or two recruits make it through the academy.
The process to make it to this stage was arduous.
All the potential recruits took a written exam, went through a background investigation, were drug tested and physically tested, and went through a psychological analysis. And, for good measure, they also took a polygraph test.
Crime in the city has been reduced 24 percent since 2006, according to Brown. He said recent controversies involving the Buffalo Police Department have not altered the recruiting process or the number of people interested in becoming city police officers.
“There are always hundreds to thousands of people interested in this job,” Brown said. “The process hasn’t been impacted at all.
“Ninety-nine percent of our officers are well-trained and doing the right thing. Those that aren’t, we’ve identified them and in some cases terminated them.”
“You’re not going to be 100 percent all the time,” Derenda said. “We have a very large department … 750 officers. Sometimes officers do the wrong thing, and when they do, there’s consequences for their actions.”
Derenda said police were hoping to have 25 to 30 recruits, but after the canvassing process, they were left with only 20 they felt were qualified. One dropped out Friday morning after “some soul searching,” Derenda said. He said police will make up for the lack of numbers when the next class of recruits is sworn in six months from now.
The recruits sworn in Friday are: Laura Beyers, Ryan Crespo, Luke Ganley, Tiffany Garland, Sean Godios, Anquela Hunter, Shawn McCabe, Vivian McDaniels, Courtney Moffett, Christopher Orefice, Lisa Perillo, Lamar Reeves, Jr., Jennifer Stutz, Dennis Taylor, Adrienne Threats, Omar Tirado, Aaron Torgalski, Brian Tripp and Zachary Williams.