INDIANAPOLIS - Sixty Indianapolis Metro Police Department recruits were sworn in by Mayor Greg Ballard Monday with plans to add 20 more by the end of the year.
The new recruits were said to be a step in the right direction to strengthening the city's public safety ranks. The group also represented IMPD's largest and most racially diverse class of recruits. Sixty percent of its members are white, 28 percent are black and 12 percent are Hispanic.
Although law enforcement is considered one of the most dangerous careers, police recruit Babacar Diouf said he wants to make Indy streets safer.
"I've always wanted to be a police officer. I've always felt like a protector. I want to help people. I think this is the perfect career for me," Diouf said.
Diouf comes from the Department of Correction Re-Entry program. During his six years there, he tried to help people get out of prison. His new job will be to send offenders back.
"The prison system is a controlled environment. Outside, it's not the same. I do believe the IMPD Academy will provide its recruits to be trained and ready," he said.
The new recruits come at a time when staffing levels at IMPD have dropped to their lowest levels since 2007. The city will fund 50 recruits from existing public safety revenues. The other 30 positions have no funding beyond the end of the year, RTV6's Jack Rinehart reported.
Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said the agency is focused on building up its staff.
"Simultaneous to hiring officers, we're hiring 40 civilian employees this year. Any officers in those positions will be moved back to the streets," Riggs said.
The police department averages 42 retirements per year. With current staffing levels at more than 230 officers, officials said the new recruits will have a neutral impact on the roster.