MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) –
Thirteen new officers joined the ranks of more than 500 sworn Montgomery Police Officers on Thursday.
Class 2015-A started with 18 cadets, losing five during a grueling 22-week training academy.
This addition to the department comes as national police recruitment efforts are falling flat. Law enforcement associations suggest 80 percent of agencies have positions that simply can’t be filled.
As the thin blue line is shrinking across the country, Montgomery’s newest officers commit to serving their communities in one of the most difficult social climates in recent memory.
Chief Ernest Finley says keeping a good relationship between police and the community begins with communication.
“There’s a lot going on,” Finley said. “My management style and my management staff hit it head on. We have those tough discussions, we have those tough discussions, we have some real issues – we just have to deal with them.”
Finley spent quality time with Class 2015-A, sparking conversations about the difficult decisions that come with wearing the badge and the shifting perception of law enforcement.
“It’s all about doing the right thing each and every day you get up,” Finley explained. “We do stay on top of current events, we just trying to find out the best practices of how we can do things different and better in Montgomery.”
Class president, officer Jacob Boddie, learned the heartbreak of being a public servant before he earning his badge.
Boddie lost his best friend, Montgomery police officer Colley, in the line of duty in April.
“No matter where I go in life, I will always know why I wear this badge,” Boddie said.
Montgomery is forging forward, searching for the right people to police the city’s streets, starting with 13 new officers who are combat veterans and housewives, who believe they were called to serve.
“We believe in transparency, we believe in building trust in those communities,” Finley said. “We are going to talk about them, we are going to figure out how we can do better.”
MPD Class 2015-B currently has 55 cadets in training.