Dozens of budding police officers took the first step in their careers on Sunday.
The 205th New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy class was seated, with 64 prospective officers beginning their training. The class is shaping up to be the largest in years. They will face a 17-week academy that includes 727 hours of practical and physical training, according to a news release from the Department of Public Safety. If they complete the course, the officers will be assigned to 24 law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
A list of what agencies the potential officers will work for wasn’t available on Sunday.
The class is seated at a time when law enforcement agencies throughout the state are trying to grow their ranks. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham last year twice wrote federal authorities, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking for more FBI agents to be dispatched to the state because local agencies are struggling to hire and retain officers.
“With no exceptions, these cadets will receive the highest caliber of training,” Department of Public Safety Secretary Jason Bowie said in a statement. “These are the first steps in a noble career. This instruction will ensure these cadets have the knowledge, training, background, principles, and expectations of being a certified law enforcement officer in the state of New Mexico.”
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DPS Deputy Secretary and Interim Law Enforcement Academy Director Benjamin Baker said the size of the class was impressive.
The classes typically have about 40 students and the 205th class will be the biggest one in years. There were 58 graduates in a 2017 class, said Herman Lovato, a DPS spokesman.
Last year, the Santa Fe-based academy certified just over 400 officers.
“We are invigorated by the robust class size,” Baker said in a statement. “This is a strong and positive reflection on statewide law enforcement recruitment efforts. We are enthusiastic about the positive changes and increased public safety delivery to New Mexico communities.”