OCPD Graduates Record Recruiting Class, No New Academies Schedul - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

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OCPD Graduates Record Recruiting Class, No New Academies Scheduled

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

A record number of recruits joined the Oklahoma City police force Thursday, which would normally be great news. Budget cuts at the department, however, mean no new classes in the foreseeable future.

The 59 rookie officers now head to field training the next four to five months.

“We are just really ready to hit the streets and help Oklahoma City,” said new officer Simeon Alibrando.

The recruits say Oklahoma City has one of the most grueling academies out there.

“A lot of my friends are law enforcement all over the country, and they’re in shock at how long our academy is,” new officer Joel Otano said.

Beyond investing their own time in hopes of making the cut, the police department invests about $90,000 on each trainee. That cost adds up, but Capt. Paco Balderrama says it is necessary to keep the force staffed.

“On average, we lost about 45-50 people a year,” Balderama said. "So we make up ground with the recruits, but we also lose people, so we’re not exactly getting 59 new bodies. We’ve already lost 40 in the past six months.”

The newly graduated officers have a variety of reasons for wearing the badge, and nearly 20 of them have military backgrounds.

"I spent time as a military police officer. I’m happy to be able to contribute back to a community that’s adopted me here in Oklahoma City,” Otabo told News 9.

Even with all the new recruits, though, Balderrama says OCPD is still more than 100 officers short of full staff. Now that cuts to the budget mean cuts to recruiting efforts, police are concerned about impacts to community relations since on-duty officers will be busy responding to calls.

“When those numbers are low, we can’t transfer people to investigations and other units, so it does hurt us altogether,” said Balderrama. “We do need more police officers and we’re just hopeful that the budget gets better so we can do that.”

“We’re looking forward to the next class, whenever that may be, coming out there and supporting us along with the rest of the officers out there,” Alibrando said.

With no new academies in the near future, police are glad to have their largest recruiting class ever, but say this time next year they could be struggling to keep the community safe.

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