When Sarah J. Waltersdorf came home from her freshman year in college, she had a better idea of what she wanted to do for a career.
Her parents just wanted to make sure she knew what she was getting into.
Waltersdorf, though, had done her homework, talking to a friend, a trooper with the state police: Waltersdorf wanted to be a police officer.
“She said ‘I know what I’m getting into,' ” Waltersdorf’s father Jim Waltersdorf, recalled Monday after his daughter was sworn in as one of the Schenectady Police Department’s six new recruits. “She did her due diligence and found out what she wanted to do.”
Of his daughter’s accomplishments so far, the father said, “We’re very proud of her.”
Friends, family and parents of the city police department’s newest recruits watched Monday morning’s swearing in at City Hall, hugging their recruits afterward and giving congratulations.
The six recruits, ranging in age from 23 to 28, will enter the Zone 5 Law Enforcement Training Academy Wednesday, with about 35 other recruits. The Schenectady class includes five men and one woman.
Addressing the recruits, and their families, were Mayor Gary McCarthy, along with Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett and new Police Chief Brian Kilcullen.
Before swearing in the recruits, McCarthy referenced Kilcullen, noting the department is undergoing a transformation with the new chief.
McCarthy also looked forward, seeing the new recruits out of the academy, becoming important parts of the department.
“It’s an exciting day, a proud day in the careers of these six individuals,” McCarthy said, “six individuals who will become key players in the Schenectady Police Department.”
Kilcullen, who was named the department’s new chief last week, touched on his own swearing in as a new recruit 19 years ago.
Kilcullen also touched on expectations, and how those expectations change once someone becomes an officer.
“Being a Schenectady Police officer, we expect more than we would of the general public,” Kilcullen said. “The general public expects more of us, especially off duty.”
Though not mentioned specifically, the department is currently conducting an investigation into the behavior of the department’s midnight platoon, which hired strippers for its annual Christmas party last month.
While Kilcullen is 19 years out of the academy, Bennett referenced his own post-academy stint, now at 44 years.
He also tried to allay any fears from family members about life in the academy, and ensure family members are supportive.
“Just be a good listener,” Bennett said, “and when you’re done listening, pat them on the back and say ‘it’s going to be OK, I know you can get through this.’”
“So be proud of your children, your loved ones,” Bennett added. “This is a big step. Law enforcement is a terrific career.”
And those taking that step Monday were eager to do so.
“It means a great deal,” recruit Richard B. Desbiens, 23, said afterward. Desbiens grew up in Schenectady and graduated from Schenectady High School. “I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to starting at the academy. I’ve lived in the city all my life. It’s something I’ve wanted to do.”
Among those there for Desbiens were his parents, whom he described as excited. “Mom’s a little nervous, but it comes from being a parent,” he said.
Recruit Scott N. Bobrowich, 28, lives in Glenville and graduated from Burnt Hills High. He recalled wanting to be a police officer since high school, being drawn to the camaraderie, the organization, “everything about it.”
Getting to the point of being sworn in is a process in itself, with recruits passing background and other checks before being selected. Next is the rigorous six-month academy.
Bobrowich looked back at that process, and looked forward.
“It’s been very difficult, but well worth every bit,” Bobrowich said of the process so far. “And I can’t even say much, because I’m not a police officer yet, but it will be all worth it in the end.”
Among those with Bobrowich was his mother, Mary Sue Bobrowich. Of her son, she said, “I’m very proud of him.”
With her swearing in, Waltersdorf becomes just the fifth female officer with a department that staffs 140.
Waltersdorf said afterward that she looks forward to starting the academy. Being an officer is something she’s felt a calling to do, she said.
Regarding her status as the department’s newest female officer, Waltersdorf said she was just happy to be an officer.
“Being a police officer is a great accomplishment, whether you’re a woman or not,” she said. “I’m looking forward to doing it.”
The new officers are:
• Scott N. Bobrowich, 28, of Glenville. Bobrowich is a graduate of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, has an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Hudson Valley Community College and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University at Albany.
• Richard B. Desbiens, 23, of Schenectady. Desbiens graduated from Schenectady High School and has an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Schenectady County Community College.
• Joseph P. Lima, 23, of Schenectady. Lima is a graduate of Guilderland High School. He has an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Hudson Valley Community College and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the State University College at Oneonta.
• Brian A. Pommer, 25, of Schenectady. Pommer graduated from Schalmont High School and has an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Schenectady County Community College.
• James A. Razzano, 27, of Schenectady. Razzano is a graduate of Mohonasen High School. He has an associate’s degree in science and business administration from Hudson Valley Community College and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University at Albany.
• Sarah J. Waltersdorf, 23, of Clifton Park. Waltersdorf graduated from Shenendehowa High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the State University College at Oneonta.