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‘No shortcuts to earning the badge’: Metro welcomes new recruit class — PHOTOS

Updated June 9, 2024 - 2:17 pm

Clad in their uniforms and minutes from receiving their police badge, the Metropolitan Police Department’s newest recruits sat stone-faced at the beginning of their graduation ceremony.

Over an hour later, with their badges pinned to their chests, the recruits laughed, shouted and hugged as they were dismissed from the police academy and officially Metro police officers.

The November recruit class graduated from the police academy Wednesday in the Las Vegas Convention Center with the support of a large crowd including family members, friends and fellow law enforcement officers.

The 64 new recruits have a wide variety of backgrounds. Recruits span the ages of 21 to 50, they were born all over the United States and in six U.S. territories or foreign countries, 16 are bilingual, and 15 are parents. The diversity within the class is something Lt. Richard Meyers noted as critical for properly serving the Las Vegas community.

Many recruits took a pay cut to join the police force because “they could not contain that fire that burns inside their bellies to serve this community,” Meyers said.

‘No easy roads to the finish line’

Meyers introduced the class’s chosen speaker, Brian Chung, who previously served in the National Guard. Chung shared that the academy taught his class that receiving help from others is sometimes necessary, he said.

“There are no easy roads to the finish line, no shortcuts to earning the badge and certainly no way to make it through the academy or even through life by doing everything by yourself,” Chung said.

In December, just a month into the recruits’ training, police responded to the Dec. 6 UNLV. Three professors were killed, another was injured, and the gunman died in a shootout with UNLV police. Chung and his fellow recruits were in class at the time, listening to the police radio in real-time.

It was a moment that would stay with Chung forever, he said.

“We all sat silently as we listened. I will never forget the feeling in that room,” Chung said. “All of us were confronted with the reality that we may find ourselves in, in a few short months. And what will we do? I had to ask myself, can I run towards the threat?”

Chung told the crowd that he would.

“If you are the responding officer — whether you’ve been on the force 30 years or you’re rolling code, day one, call one, minute one — I want you all to know that we will always be there to protect our great community of which we are proud to serve selflessly,” Chung said.

Meyers also shared a police academy tradition of dedicating each class to a fallen officer. The November cohort dedicated its class to Jason Swanger, an officer who died of COVID-19 complications in 2021. Swanger’s wife and son were in attendance at the ceremony, and were referenced, or thanked, frequently.

The family provided blue bracelets to all of the recruits and the staff at the graduation.

‘Never betray my badge’

After all the graduates received their badges, with loud cheers from the packed room, they were officially sworn into the police force. After the recruits were sworn in, all law enforcement in the room was asked to stand up and take an oath.

“I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust,” said the recruits, as well as the other law enforcement officers in the room, in unison. “I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.”

In the ceremony’s closing remarks, Undersheriff Andrew Walsh commented on the large turnout in the room — all the seats had been taken and many were standing near the walls. He said it gave him a moment to reflect on where the department is as a law enforcement agency.

After the August recruit class joins the department later this year, Metro will only have 2 to 2.5 percent of police officer positions vacant, Walsh said.

“We still have a little bit of work to do, but there isn’t a sheriff or a chief of police around the country that wouldn’t trade places with us,” he said.

Contact Ella Thompson at ethompson@reviewjournal.com. Follow her on X @elladeethompson.

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