The city of Columbus welcomed a combined total of 77 new police officers and firefighters on Friday.
It was a day of celebration for 42 new Columbus police officers and 35 Columbus firefighters, all of them ready to put their lives on the line to keep the city safe.
It's a welcome addition to the city's public safety force.
In January of 2011, DROP, a state mandated program, forced the retirement of 78 veteran firefighters and 100 police officers.
Columbus Safety Director Mitch Brown said Friday’s graduates bring the total number of Columbus police officers to about 1,920.
The Division of Fire is now about 1,560 members strong. Brown says in part, it’s thanks to voters who approved a tax increase.
“The fact that they approved the tax was special. We’re using that money wisely to hire police officers and firefighters to take care of our citizens.”
Friday’s ceremony held special meaning for Columbus Police Chief Kimberly Jacobs, whose son was among the graduates.
“All of them have the opportunity to go out and make a difference. I can't be more proud of them,” she said.
Public safety manpower will continue to increase. Both police and fire graduated a class today, and each has a new class already in progress.
Brown says the city is encouraging more minorities and women to join the ranks.
Jack Reall , the president of the Local Firefighters Union Local 67, said the city will still need to hire more firefighters to cover a higher than anticipated number of retirements this year, and to staff the possible addition of three new fire stations around the city.
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