D.C.'s first police recruit class since June 2010 started training Monday.
After a meeting with the Mayor and Police Chief Cathy Lanier, the recruits walked to a classroom. The 35 men and women come from many different backgrounds from D.C. to Montana. They are expected to graduate in April.
Recruit Ray Hamilton from Dallas, Tx., worked at a fitness gym as he waited to hear back from D.C. police.
"I wasn't willing to accept no for an answer, so I'm glad to be here," he said. Hamilton first applied in Oct. 2009.
Hamilton and his fellow recruits will spend the next six months in training from weapons to physical fitness to knowing the law. The number of D.C. police officers has shrunk from 4,100 a few years ago to 3,800 now. Lanier said police plans to train additional recruits on a rolling schedule.
"What this hiring schedule will allow us to do it to continue to put new recruit officers in each month (from) October through July and they will start coming out of the academy in April, so we will have classes continually coming in and continually going out," Lanier said.
Police were able to begin training recruits after Mayor Vincent Gray said he found additional funding in the budget to go toward police training. Eventually, 300 new officers will join the force.
About 15 police officers leave the force per month, police officials say. With the new hires, MPD is hoping to have a net gain of 100 people by 2012.
FBI statistics released last month showed that violent crime nationwide dropped 6 percent in 2010. In the District, overall violent crime decreased by 1 percent. The number of rapes reported in the District of Columbia increased by nearly 25 percent last year. By comparison, rape dropped 5 percent nationwide.
"That's the exact opposite of the national trends, there should be alarm bells going off across this city," Kristopher Baumann of the Fraternal Order of Police said.
Some recruits said they're the second generation of their family to choose law enforcement are their profession. Their starting salary is $49,000 a year.