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So New, and So Veteran, 1,359 Police Graduates are Praised


March 27, 2002
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So New, and So Veteran, 1,359 Police Graduates are Praised

by Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times

Many of them were police officers before they ever finished their training. All of them are the first to join the Police Department since the attack on the World Trade Center. And yesterday, the 1,359 newly minted officers made up the first graduating class of police officers presided over by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, with his police commissioner.

The ceremony, held at a packed Madison Square Garden, began with a video featuring tape from various police activities, including the response to the World Trade Center attack, in which 23 officers perished, and images of those officers who died.

"If any class earned its stripes early on, it is this class," said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, recalling how young recruits ran to the scene, struggling to help those with years of experience.

"In the wake of Sept. 11, these officers have had more field experience than any class in history," Mr. Kelly said. He went on to detail how the recruits, barely into their eight months of training, went on to serve in other roles, like policing the World Economic Forum and assisting at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, jobs not usually handled by those still in training. Some caught criminals, like a rapist who was chased over a fence and arrested by a young officer in training who has yet to earn his gun.

The department, which has begun a major recruitment, has attracted renewed good will since Sept. 11, Mr. Kelly said. "The public at large has concluded that a police officer, particularly a New York City police officer, is a good thing to be," he said.

Mayor Bloomberg, who began his day welcoming Merrill Lynch employees back to the World Financial Center, which the firm began reoccupying this fall, carefully read over the plaques awarded to several police officers for academic and other achievements. Among them was the Mayor's Award, presented to Michele Lambert, who had the highest grade point average in her class.

"It is my honor to participate in this graduation ceremony and to recognize the strong diversity of this graduating class, which is comprised of 53 percent minority officers and 20 percent who are women," the mayor said. "You are truly reflective of our society and I congratulate you. You are a model for all of government."

Mr. Bloomberg added: "Because of the tragic events of 9/11 the department asked you to perform tasks that have never been done by previous recruits."

Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference yesterday that the ceremonies for new classes of firefighters and police officers, the opening of private businesses near ground zero and the various other tasks in his daily schedule were still emotionally overshadowed, for him, by the funerals he had recently attended.

It is "not even close," he said. "I don't know how you ever express to the parents how grateful we are to the lost sons and daughters who protect all of us. There's no ways you can bring back their children. All you can do is say thank you, make sure that their families left behind are taken care of financially and go and build a better world."




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