Nine new Schenectady Police recruits were sworn in this morning at City Hall, in front of family, friends and city officials.
The new recruits were sworn in even as other officers face dismissal at disciplinary hearings, the first hearing scheduled for this Thursday.
Those incidents were referenced several times in comments by Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett, Mayor Brian U. Stratton and Police Chief Mark Chaires.
Those being sworn in, Stratton said, were making a commitment to protect and to serve.
“They also take on the very heavy burden of making that commitment in a city that continues to rebuild and continues to struggle from the unfortunate actions of a few who have gone before them,” Stratton said.
The challenges are many, Stratton said, among them training and policing in an urban environment.
“There is a great opportunity not only to protect and serve, but to help us rebuild,” Stratton said. “Perhaps that will be their greatest challenge.”
More than a half dozen officers are now facing termination, accused of various acts ranging from off-duty arrests to one officer accused of collecting pay for work he didn’t do.
The recruits start the 12-week academy Wednesday. The hires get the department back to full strength of 166.
Asked about the department’s past woes, recruit Kevin Rayball of Ballston Lake said all he is concerned about is the future.
“I’ve wanted to be a police officer my whole life,” Rayball, 23, said, “and this is my opportunity to get into it.”
James Claus, 21, of Pattersonville, said he’s wanted to be an officer since he was 8 years old watching the television shows "Cops" and "America’s Most Wanted."
He said he’s always wanted to make difference. He was joined this morning by several members of his family, including his mother.
“They understand that it’s not the easiest job or the safest job in the world,” Claus said. “But they understand it’s something I want to do and they support me 100 percent.”