Many of them were police officers before they ever finished their
training. All of them are the first to join the Police Department since
attack on the World Trade Center. And yesterday, the 1,359 newly minted
officers made up the first graduating class of police officers presided
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
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
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
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
"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
Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference yesterday that the ceremonies
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
is say thank you, make sure that their families left behind are taken care
of financially and go and build a better world."