There are nine new officers in Wichita Falls as of Friday with the completion of a six-month police academy.
For some of the graduating officer, serving on the force is something they have wanted to do for a long time, for others serving is a new found passion.
Wichita Falls Police Chief Manuel Borrego said things have changed over the years for training new police recruits.
“When I went through the police academy in 1982 we did about 360 hours of training, now they are well over 1000 hours of training,” Borrego said. “We get better discipline, better professional police officers out on the streets.”
For the nine men who graduated from the academy, there are some things from all those days of training that they won’t forget.
“It was really good looking back on it. [I] thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a lot of knowledge, good knowledge,” Trent Walker, a member of the 71st Police Academy graduation class, said. “The pepper spray stuck with us for hours and is going to stick with me for a long time. I can still smell it sometimes.”
For others, the connection with their classmates and fellow officers make it worthwhile.
“Just all the guys, the brotherhood that we have made and tasering OC,” Scott Stoecklein, another member of the police academy class, said.
Despite incidents involving law enforcement that make headlines, the new officers understand the job ahead.
“I’m not concerned about it really. I’m just going to do my best to respect everybody and treat everybody how they need to be treated. If I do that then everything will be fine,” Walker said. “It’s a good opportunity to show people that we are all good.”
Stoecklein feels the same way.
“Somebodies got to do the job, so I’m glad myself and the other officers with me step up and do it every day,” Stoecklein said.
Borrego added he has high hopes for the class of recruits.
“It seems like we are getting some very good applicants,” Borrego said. “These guys are very strong in command presence and just good common sense, which you need to be a police officer.”
With the academy behind the officers, they can look forward to completing the next phase of their training and hitting the streets of the city they took an oath to protect.
Borrego said the new officers will be working with veteran officers completing field training and will be on solo patrols by November.