MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Thirty-seven new Memphis police officers took their oaths Thursday night at the first MPD graduation in more than a year.
It comes as the department aims to rebuild following dozens of recent resignations. The recruits survived the 21 weeks it takes to earn a badge.
Jhukuruin Cole, 22, was once on the wrong path.
"I was forced with 'either/or' and I chose 'or,'" said Cole. "And I got knocked down, and the Lord picked me back up and now I'm here."
The Juvenile Intervention and Faith-Based Follow-Up organization, or JIFF, helped this once troubled youth. He now hopes to set a positive example for his son and others.
"You know, I want to be an ambitious person within this community," said Cole. "I want to serve this city, I want to bring back safety, peace, restore family-hood in this city," he added.
Cole joins a department that's been hemorrhaging officers, due in part to recent budget cuts.
"One thing, I will not be smug about that," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton. "We regret that, we hate to lose highly-qualified officers,"
Wharton added. "We'll just do our best to replace them."
Another hurdle the department dealt with was high profile arrests. Eighteen officers faced criminal charges in 2014.
"But if you want to be a thug, I promise you I will put you in jail," said MPD Director Toney Armstrong while addressing the class. "There's a lot of expectations."
Funding is already in place for the next MPD recruitment class, Friday is the last day to apply.