LEXINGTON, Ky (WKYT) - Nearly a year ago, 1,200 people applied to be part of the first group of new Lexington Police recruits in three years. Today, 23 new officers had badges pinned to their chests.
Over a thousand applied, only a handful were selected. Today, that handful graduated from an eight-month training academy to prepare them for life as a Lexington Police Officer.
"It's been a crazy 32 weeks. I thought it was going to take forever and it absolutely flew by. The bonds that I've made throughout this process are just incredible," said new officer Stephanie McClain. Today was extra special for her family because her mother's been an officer in Lexington for years.
"She loves her job and growing up watching her doing what she loves has just been amazing," said Officer McClain.
The city won't stop the hiring with this class. They say they hope to hire in the neighborhood of 30 more.
"We're recruiting and we're looking to hire another class hopefully that would begin in February of next year, so we're looking to get the best folks that are out there," said Lexington Police chief Ronnie Bastin.
Lexington isn't the only city looking to add to its police force. Officials in Richmond say they need more officers there too. They're six officers shy of their allotted strength and for every 150 applicants they get, they say only three to five make it through training.
"The more you screen people, the better qualified you get, so the pool starts out big and it gets smaller, but it's still about 10 to 12 applicants per one," said Larry Ball, director of the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council.
These brand new officers will spend the next 15 weeks training with veteran officers in the real world until they get sent out on their own.