2 min read
Posted on 08.29.14
  • 2 min read
  • Posted on 08.29.14

I spoke last night at the graduation ceremony of Academy Class 2014-01, twenty-five men and women who will now serve their fellow St. Louisans as officers of the Metropolitan Police Department. They are among the first officers to join a police department controlled by the City of St. Louis for the first time in 150 years.

Even by the high standards that mark most commencements, this was an excellent ceremony. The new officers looked like what they were: the pride of a diverse metropolitan city. The families looked like they were the kind of people who produce the pride of a diverse metropolitan city. Everyone was cheering for everyone.

In the aftermath of Ferguson - a time when the professionalism of the City's police department was sharply tested, a time when the City's police department unquestionably distinguished itself - I reminded the young officers of their duty: to be just and fair to all. I cautioned them that the eyes of the world would be on St. Louis's law enforcers more -- more eyes and more often -- than ever before. And I congratulated them for their willingness to lead change. I told them that we were counting on them to do so.

Academy Class 2014-01 chose to dedicate itself to the memory of Police Officer Nick Sloan, who was killed in the line of duty ten years, nearly to the day, from when the class began its training. Class President Darius Rutling offered stirring words to Officer Sloan's family about how the new officers were inspired by his career.

I was reminded by Officer Rutling's words and the presence of Officer Sloan's survivors that Chief Sam Dotson and I - that all of us - were asking twenty-five very young St. Louisans to represent us in dangerous times and places. While I am confident that they are the best prepared class to leave the Academy, I pray that that will be enough.