PETERSBURG, Va. -- Civil unrest and demands to defund the police have seen large numbers of police leave their jobs. Some have chosen to retire while others are leaving for new career paths.
But recently, Crater Criminal Justice Training Academy had their graduation. Three of the graduates are now Petersburg Police officers.
While they are in field training for the next six months, all three say they're ready to make a difference in their community.
The three new officers, Officer Jonai Jackson, Officer Mark Howell and Officer Ky'Shawn Ralls say that at a time when most people have no interest in becoming a police officer, they are ready to step up and help out their community.
“I know I want to be out helping with the community," Officer Howell said.
The three new officers say they are ready to hit the streets of Petersburg.
“I actually want to be a positive impact, so when a little kid goes, hey, there’s Officer Jackson, I want to be that light for them, so then like hey, they’re not all bad," said Officer Jonai Jackson.
All three fully are well aware of what has happened over the last 18 months and the spotlight shining on law enforcement across the country.
“I want to help someone on their worst day," said Officer Ky’Shawn Ralls.
The three new officers already come with college degrees.
The trio says that going into law enforcement at this time is their calling.
“I got into it to be a servant to the community and to be a servant to my fellow man. Keep those safe that need to be kept safe, protect the ones that ain’t protect themselves and serve the community in what they need," said Officer Howell.
All three say that they want to put extra focus on the youngest community members in the city.
"To look for these juveniles in the bad neighborhoods, trying to give them a positive outlook, hey, you need to go this way, not that way," Officer Jackson said.
“I want to be that positive influence, showing kids that people are here to help, that you can be more, you can do more, you can do more if you put your mind to it," said Officer Ralls.
When field training is over, each of the three new police officers will be assigned a vehicle.
Then it will be up to them to fulfill their calling.