After Deadly Shootings, Dallas Police Recruits Say They’re More Committed Than Ever

“It’s going to take us as a team, as a unit, as police officers, to rebuild relationships with the community.”

By Christopher ConnellyAugust 5, 2016 9:30 am, ,

From KERA News

It’s been almost a month since a gunman opened fire on police officers downtown Dallas. Since then, the department has been sorting through a deluge of job applications. Last week, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gave a shout out to the city.

“Police Chief David Brown asked the community to support his force. Maybe even join him,” she said as she addressed the Democratic National Convention. “And you know how the community responded? Nearly 500 people applied in just 12 days.”

Those applicants will have to take a civil service exam and be interviewed and vetted. If they’re selected, they’ll enroll in Dallas police academy.

For those already enrolled, they enter a field as the department struggles with tragedy, and amid a contentious debate about policing.

The morning starts at 7:55 for the hundred recruits in the Dallas police academy. They form neat rows in the parking lot, raise the flag, and report in. Then, they drop to the ground and do pushups.

The recruits are diverse. Like the city they will serve, it’s made up mostly of whites, Hispanics, and African-Americans. Almost three-quarters are men. All of them started their training before the shootings that rocked Dallas in early July.

“You know, we were scared. I mean, we’re normal human beings,” says 22-year-old Chelsea Montanino, whose class started just one week before the attack. “But I think for the most part, when that happened, it pushed us all together. We’re so new, it was a week in, but I feel like it really pushed us to come together as a family and as a team.”

In the days following the shooting, the recruits worked the funerals for the fallen officers. Police departments from across the country sent representatives, and the funerals were attended by thousands of cops. For new recruit Brannon Barber, who also joined a week before the shooting, seeing that unity strengthened his resolve to become one of them.

“It was a much needed moment for me to experience that, to realize what it is I’m getting myself into, and to also see and realize that I’m not out here alone but I have the support not only from my agency, but my brothers and sisters from around the nation,” Barber says.

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