NORMAN — Many of Norman’s finest gathered Thursday afternoon to welcome seven individuals to the police department for the 50th Police Academy graduation at Bethel Baptist Church.
“We want to take a few moments to welcome you all to the family,” Chief Keith Humphrey said. “You’re joining a department that’s on the cutting edge of being the best department in the state.”
The police department received around 135 applications for the academy this year, which began in February. While some applications were immediately discarded for various reasons, out of those 135, only 10 received final offers.
Chief Humphrey said the seven individuals graduating Thursday were truly the “best of the best” and he was very proud of them.
Graduating cadets included Aury Barrett, Ashley Curry, Marvin Deatherage, Cody Fassett, Thomas McGuire, Ryan Rylant and Nathaniel Worthley.
“We hope to keep them for 20, 25 years,” Humphrey said.
Guest speaker Andy Rieger, executive editor of The Transcript, talked about his years as a former police reporter and his experience with the Citizens’ Police Academy. Perhaps most importantly, he tipped the new officers off about Norman residents.
“Ninety-nine percent of people in this community are good people,” Rieger said, advising them to throw out their assumptions that most people are their suspects.
He quoted Humphrey as saying the department could never hire enough officers to watch the city at all times, but he could enlist citizens to be their eyes and ears. Rieger said the community wants to get to know their new officers and talk to them.
“The community supports you,” he said.
Humphrey has said before that community-oriented policing has become a vital part of making Norman a safer city.
After the speech ended, the cadets were presented with their badges and stood in front of the stage. They remained still while loved ones were invited to pin the new badges onto the cadets’ uniforms. Then they took their oaths of office, right hands raised, promising to fulfill their duties as police officers.