Indianapolis police swore in its first recruit class in more than two years Monday, and their training will be unlike any other in history.
The 20-person class is the eighth since the formation of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and includes 10 black recruits, nine white recruits and one Hispanic recruit, along with five women.
Police went to New York, Los Angeles and spent time with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to create a new training agenda that emphasizes a greater sensitivity to race, gender and cultural differences in the community.
"Getting this recruit class out in the community is of significant importance to us, and that will be occurring over their next 44 weeks of training," said Deputy Chief Lloyd Crowe, who oversees training. "We do have some assignments that will take them into the community much earlier than in past recruit training."
Despite the eventual influx of officers, the recruits won't bolster the department's shrinking numbers in a year when 20 veteran officers have announced they're retiring.
A $3 million funding agreement that pays the salaries of 50 officers requires the department to have a minimum of 1,643 officers. Even with the new recruit class, the department has dropped to 1,634.
"I understand the budgeting constraints and all that, but we are barely going to keep our head above water for the rest of the year with this class," said Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. Bill Owensby.
He said the shortage could change the department from a proactive style of policing to a reactive one.
"In a hot zone enforcement, you may be able to get guns off the street and make warrant arrests, because you're saturating a high crime area, but the crime has already occurred for you to be there to begin with," Owensby said.
The recruit class was selected from an existing list of applicants that were originally given conditional offers of employment in 2010, officials said.
All candidates completed written and physical testing, medical and psychological exams, and background checks.
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