ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In front of friends, family and dignitaries, Anchorage Police Department celebrated the graduation of 18 new recruits Thursday afternoon. Chief of police, Justin Doll, says APD is close to meeting a long-held staffing target.
The ceremony began with a presentation of colors and the singing of the national anthem. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz extolled the virtues of chivalry while Chief Doll said after 21-years of service he wouldn't change his decision to get into law enforcement.
The class valedictorian was also its youngest member: Josiah Streff, 21, was born and raised in Chugiak, he spoke to the auditorium about life in the academy and the pain of being pepper sprayed during training. One of many jokes that got the audience laughing.
One-by-one, APD's newest graduates then stepped onto the stage after a short biography was read. Many of the recruits have military experience and a few have recently come to Alaska from the Lower-48. Girlfriends, wives, and parents then pinned a shiny golden badge onto the graduate's chests.
The oath of office was then recited before rapturous applause.
Doll says APD now has 402 sworn officers. In a couple of weeks, the academy will graduate another 35 recruits, bringing the total number of Anchorage police officers to 437. APD has a long-held target of around 440 or 450 officers. "So that puts us right on target, even a little sooner than we thought," said Doll.
After the ceremony, Streff explained to Channel 2 that he joined the National Guard at 17, becoming a qualified helicopter pilot. He said he wanted to join APD "to be part of team" and that his family had preached the importance of service.
"Everybody in this police department, the city means so much to us. I've been here for 6-months in the academy and we're thrilled to hit the streets and do what we can to help," said Streff.
The graduates will now spend 3-4 months in field training before becoming patrol officers. Doll explained that all new officers then spend 3-5 years in the patrol division before spreading out across the department.