Economy Bolsters Police Academy Numbers

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- A badge and blue uniform aren't handed out to just anyone. The Midland Police Academy is a grueling 18 weeks plus an additional 18 weeks of "on-the-job" training in addition to required state exams. During the 2008 oil boom officials say it was difficult to find enough men and women willing and able to make the cut.
   
"Over the last few years we've stayed right at about 15-20 officers short." Sgt. Greg McCright, who heads up recruiting at MPD said the latest police academy may add 12 officers to the force.

"Not only are we getting more applicants and more officers on the streets those that may have wanted to retire or go into another business are deciding this is stable I am going to stay here. So not only are we adding more, we're retaining more," he said.

In a large open gym, 19 new recruits must endure the physical training and defensive tactics lessons each day. It's the largest class in years according to officials who say the average classes had reached as low as 7 or 8 cadets including those from other agencies including Big Spring.

"I am not going to fail. I am not going to quit." Cadet JJ Horne says he's ready to trade into a jersey to put on the blue uniform.

Horne played football at the college level and briefly in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys was released after walking on in 2006.

"I would say for a large number of the cadets, I would say it is the economy, but I've always wanted to do this, with the ultimate goal of working for the FBI," he said.

Officers like Molly Porter volunteer hours each week to make sure the recruits are ready to patrol the streets.

"These guys that are going through the academy they're potentially our backup when they hit the streets so we want to make sure that they can protect themselves and help us if we need the help," Porter said.