LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The Lubbock Police Department will have 22 officers heading to Hub City streets after Friday's graduation of Class 2017B.
"These are the best of the best," Greg Stevens, Lubbock Police chief, said. "Hundreds of people come in and apply. Hundreds of people try to get in these positions."
The 22 rookies spent around 26 weeks in the Lubbock Police Academy. Now, they will head to the Field Training Officer phase for several months.
"By and large, these numbers in the next few weeks, up to 16 weeks, will really impact the patrol numbers and have more officers out on the streets patrolling and answering calls for service," Stevens said.
Currently, the Lubbock Police Department is fully staffed at its budgeted strength, according to Stevens, at 443 officers. After the field training, the officers are expected to stay on patrol.
"They will beef those numbers up," Stevens said. "It will give us the opportunity to promote a few people to detectives, fill a couple of the command staff ranks where we have had people to retire."
"How many more?" Stevens asked. "Those are conversations we have as we work through the budgets and as we look at how many we can afford. Again, we would love to have 500 officers but that takes money."
Nonetheless, the 2017B class is ready to take its place in the force.
"We have these 22 great Americans who are not only willing to do this job but they are qualified to do it and capable to do it," Stevens said. "We are looking forward to getting them out on the streets and doing whatever we can do to try and prevent crime, respond to crimes as quickly as we can and solve crimes that have occurred and try to bring a sense of security to people."
Karina Rodriguez is one of those graduates who moved to Lubbock from Dallas to attend Texas Tech. She is now the first in her family to enter a law enforcement career.
"I come from a family of immigrants," Rodriguez said. "Being able to give back to this country that has given us so many opportunities, that's what has driven me to want to participate and be in this role."
Robert Ayala also moved to Lubbock as his wife attends medical school. He is back in a uniform after spending time in the Marine Corps.
"I look forward to taking on the challenge of being able to serve every single citizen in this great city," Ayala said. "It's going to be a very challenging role but one I am more than willing to accept."
Both are ready to join their brother and sisters in blue to serve a community they have come to love.
"We've worked hard as a unit together," Rodriguez said. "I feel like [the community] should be confident in the 22 officers that were able to make it through."
"We will never quit," Ayala said. "We will do whatever we need to do to make every citizen feel safe in this city."
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