DENVER - The Denver Police Academy started training its first new class of recruits in five years on Tuesday.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Police Chief Robert White and Manager of Safety Alex Martinez addressed the class of just over 100 recruits.
The mayor congratulated the news recruits on being accepted into the academy and reminded them of the critical role they hope to play in protecting Denver residents.
"I don't think that there is a more important, value-laden task that we have than to keep the people of Denver safe," Hancock said.
He asked the recruits "to recognize and acknowledge…what a sacred position you are pursuing."
The mayor spoke of Americans' unalienable rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" invoked in the Declaration of Independence.
"You are the first line as sworn Denver police officers to protect those liberties," Hancock said. While responding on calls, "You are meeting people at their most anxious and maybe their darkest hour."
This year's class was funded by Denver voters' passage of Measure 2A in 2012. The ballot measure added $68 million to the city budget, allowing Denver to hire 100 more police officers and firefighters, repave 300 lane miles of roads and restore library hours that had been slashed as a cost-cutting measure.
Tight budgets during the recession had prevented the city from hiring new rookie officers since the last academy class graduated in 2008.