John Cádiz Klemack
Friday was graduation day for the LAPD. Samantha Barnhart was among the graduates, and she is following in her father's footsteps to become a Los Angeles police officer. John Cádiz Klemack reports from the LAPD Police Academy for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on January 25, 2013.
Newly minted LAPD Officer Samantha Barnhart was greeted by a familiar face on stage at her Friday graduation ceremony: her father's.
Thirty-two years after now-Detective Thomas Barnhart joined the force, his daughter became a sworn officer as well.
"My daughter means the world to me and to see her take this step and follow in the footsteps of law enforcement makes me very proud," the elder Barnhart said.
At Friday's ceremony at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park, the proud father was easy to spot up on stage behind Chief Charlie Beck. The detective's camera flashed at every moment his daughter smiled.
Beck told the 34 men and six women in the Los Angeles Police Department class that graduated Friday that he would protect and serve them "while you protect and serve the City of Angels."
"You are not my employees, you are my family," Beck said.
Like the others in the January graduating class, Samantha Barnhart, pictured at right, completed 920 hours of training over the course of 24 weeks.
She said she's witnessed "what a great career" the LAPD can be by observing her dad.
"It's a big family and I just feel very grateful to be a part of it," she said.
Samantha will be stationed not too far from her father. She's headed to Van Nuys station, while he worked out of the Mission Division in San Fernando.
Thomas Barnhart, pictured below at the ceremony, said "of course" he's concerned about his daughter's safety out on the streets, but he said times have changed. Crimes rates in Los Angeles are way down.
"In 1981, when I joined the department, it was kind of the us-against-them mentality, and the public didn't really look at us as an extension," he said "We have made great strides in the last three decades."