Baraka swears in 35 new police officers amid departmental upheaval

By Naomi Nix | The Star-Ledger
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on September 05, 2014

Thirty-five Newark Police Department recruits take the Oath of Office as they are sworn in a police officers during a ceremony held in Newark City Hall.

 

NEWARK — Mayor Ras Baraka swore in a class of 35 new police officers today in a ceremony that was as joyous as it was serious.

The 35 officers were part of a class of 51 Newark recruits who entered a police academy for training this past April — the first since the department laid off more than 160 officers in 2010.

"You are a godsend whether you know it or not," Baraka told the class during a ceremony at City Hall. "This is a very exciting afternoon here in the city of Newark."

The new recruits had to go through a 24-week law enforcement course at Essex County College Police Academy to receive training on firearms, new jersey law and physical drills. Of the 51, about 16 dropped off during training for a variety of reasons, according to the city.

Baraka encouraged the officers to hold themselves to higher standards than police forces in other communities.

"We are not Ferguson. We are Newark," he said, referring to the Missouri police department steeped in controversy over the shooting death of an unarmed teenager. "We are not New York. We are Newark."

The mayor also told the officers that they had a "high calling" which may at times, put them in dangerous situations.

"By virtue of the fact that you wear that badge and hold that gun, you are in harms way," he said.

Police Chief Anthony Campos echoed similar sentiments, telling the officers that their new job would not be easy.

"It gets real the minute you hit the streets," he said.

Nor, was it easy for the city to find the money to hire additional police officers, he added.

"There was a whole lot of cutting to make room for you," he told the officers.

The new officers join a department that is facing many changes.

The Department of Justice released earlier this year a scathing report on the Newark police department, alleging widespread abuse of citizens' civil rights and disproportionate targeting of African Americans.

Newark's police department became the 13th in the nation to operate under a federal monitor .

Baraka recently appointed a new police chief and police director. He has also announced plans to restructure the department so that 70 percent of the force is on the streets instead of in desk jobs.

The new officers seemed unfazed by the challenges that lay ahead.

"I can't stop smiling," Kevin Wright Jr. said after the ceremony. The 25 year-old said he decided to become a Newark police officer because of the stories his dad, a 20-year veteran on the force, would tell him about helping people.

"I wanted to follow in his footsteps," he said.

Ashley Bishop, 24, said she, too, joined the force to help Newark residents.

"This is something I've always wanted to do," she said.

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment