Wearing white dress gloves and black bands of mourning across their new badges, LAPD's next generation moved from cadet to officer Friday during a subdued academy graduation ceremony that reflected tumultuous events across the nation, and the slaying of five Dallas officers by sniper fire only the night before.
"They have joined an organization that will protect them," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told family members of the 37 new officers during the ceremony in the courtyard of the downtown police headquarters. "They are going to lead lives that will matter — live of significance...so don't be afraid. Be proud."
"My wife, my family knows that the instructors at the academy and our DI (drill instrutor) did everything they possibly could to prepare us," said Heeyoung Rim, as his proud wife Christina stood nearby.
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"As a spouse, you sign on to have your spouse become a police officer," said Christina Rim. "You kind of know that, you know, this is something that is part of the job. And it's so sad. And it's so hard. But I think it speaks to the dedication and love of all our officers for what they do. This is what they know they're walking into."
Asked about the horror in Dallas, new officers spoke of their sworn commitment to duty and their training to carry it out. But some also acknowledged the emotional jolt.
"It bothered me. It really troubled me," said Brandyn Mooney, a former lifeguard motivated to become an officer to save lives. "It brings it close to heart."
"That's very disturbing, you know, we sometimes feel we are targets because we wear uniforms. And so we have to be extra cautious," said Capt. Tim Nordquist, LAPD Olympic Division commanding officer.
A year after his graduation and assigned to Central Division, second year LAPD Officer Chad Scott found himself assigned to working the ceremony, and being asked about the impact of Dallas, in which the slaying of the officers appears to investigators to have been planned and specifically targeting law enforcement.
"I've never been worried or scared. But it's something you have to think about now in the climate we live in," Scott said.
LAPD station commanders said they do not anticipate making any changes in deployment in response to Dallas, but do plan to talk to their personnel about officer safety. LAPD has long made it a policy of assigning two officers per patrol for safety, though supervising patrol sergeants generally do not pair up.
At the same time, captains said the department will not allow events to derail its commitment to community policing outreach efforts.
"It's OK to smile. It's OK to laugh. It's OK to shake their hand," said LAPD Central Captain Don Graham. "In fact, it's not just OK, it's my expectation."
Beck spoke of the need to mend the schisms that sometimes separate communities from each other and from police.
"We must move beyond that," Beck said.