RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Police will welcome 15 new officers the department hopes will bring diverse life experiences and perspectives to the streets of Richmond.
Richmond Police invited CBS 6 for a behind-the-scenes look as the 124th Basic Recruit Class rehearsed its graduation on the Virginia Union University campus on Wednesday.
The recruits, all men, spent eight months in the academy undergoing training and scenario planning to protect and serve the city.
The recruits include an international professional basketball player and VCU alum, also joining the force is a semi-professional football player with the Brooklyn Bengals, a geese herder, an EMS medical technician, and an event planner.
Christopher Carey spent the last four years teaching Elementary education for Chesterfield County Public Schools. He is swapping a classroom for a squad car after 10 years in education. He hopes to help more people beyond the walls of his classroom.
“We are definitely an eclectic mix of guys,” Carey said. “I was expecting going into the academy that I’m 32 [years old]. I’m changing a career. I’m going to be the oldest one there. I show up and I’m not the oldest one. I’m right in the middle. We have a range to show people still care about the city and they want to help.”
The new recruits speak five different languages: English, Jamaican Patois, Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese.
Studies show diversity in policing can improve interactions between officers and the public. It can also lead to fewer complaints and use of force cases.
The new officers are joining the force at a time when the Richmond Police Department is down more than 100 officers, according to Crime Insider sources.
“This is a huge change. I know nothing about it other than what I’ve learned in the academy,” Carey said. “It doesn’t matter what time in your life when that calling calls — we are going to take it. We are here to help and in the end it doesn’t matter.”
Graduation is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at Coburn Hall on the VUU campus.
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