Detroit soon will get an influx of new police officers, as 55 recruits were sworn in Friday during a ceremony at Second Ebenezer Church.
Two classes — 2017 E and F — graduated Friday. They will join 300 officers who were hired last year, said Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who on Friday celebrated his 40th anniversary of joining the Detroit Police Department in 1977.
“I love this job today as much as I did 40 years ago,” Craig told the graduates. “This is an oath not to be taken lightly. It’s based on the tenets of what it means to be a Detroit police officer: Courage, integrity and service to citizens.”
Craig warned the new officers they’re about to embark on a tough career. “In this present environment of confusion and conflict, you have a steeper learning curve than I did when I first started,” Craig said. “You’ll also be contending with the anti-police rhetoric that’s out there. Never give credibility to their claims.”
New officer Marquise Lake, president of Class 2017 E, said he’s looking forward to starting his new career.
“Our fundamental duty is to serve the community, and safeguard lives and property,” Lake said. “That’s a tremendous responsibility.”
The new officers join a police force that’s struggled with manpower issues for years. Craig told The Detroit News the department was 126 officers short of the budgeted positions as of June 2. There are about 1,700 police officers on the force.
“We need you badly,” said Detroit Police Commissioner Willie Bell, a retired Detroit cop. “Do not take your new responsibilities lightly. I challenge you to give something back. There’s got to be some way you can make someone smile every day.”
During Friday’s ceremony, Craig was surprised by a video commemorating his 40th anniversary, which include a clip from WXYZ (Ch. 7), which sent a crew to Los Angeles in the early 1990s to do a feature of Detroit officers who left the force.
Craig, who was a sergeant with the Los Angeles police force at the time, told the crew he enjoyed his job, and that he would only come back to Detroit “if they offer me the police chief position.”
Craig implored the new officers to be safe.
“You have chosen a demanding yet rewarding profession,” he said. “Always remember: No matter where your career takes you, make sure it takes you home safe at the end of your shift.”