ST. LOUIS, Mo. - After six months of training, 25 St. Louis police recruits are about to be sworn in as new officers.
They trained while Ferguson burned just 12 miles away. At times, the images weighed on recruits like 30-year-old Jeanine Waters, who grew up in Ferguson and whose parents still live there. Long before Ferguson occurred she felt a calling to become a police officer.
"I'm a woman. I'm African American….just prove to myself and to other people that yes, we are officers. But we are still professionals. We are still people. We still feel like you. We still bleed like you. We still hurt like you," Waters said.
Brandon Clark, 24, has a degree in criminal justice from Central Missouri State and is now getting his masters in Human Resources at Webster University. He hopes to serve in North St. Louis where he grew up.
Clark explained, "I want to give back to the youth. I see a lot of young guys on the side just hanging out. I want to make sure they are doing the positive things like getting into sports, getting into after school tutoring they need, going to college." He added, as a police officer "You are being a good role model. My main point of being a police officer is helping the youth out, our youth is our future."
Darious Rutling, 25, worked as a TV cameraman in Arkansas before moving to St. Louis and applying to the police department. He said he wants to serve to help improve the public's perception of police.
"I'm a people person," Rutling said, "If I can talk to them, get out there, get my face out there, and let them see, all police are not bad, then they won't have this negative view on police officers."
Kyle Ramsey, 26, is from Jefferson County. Like many of the recruits, he watched what was playing out in Ferguson and had concerns but never doubted his decision.
"Me personally, I think my safety, seeing things on TV unravel, my safety and being ready. But I've been trained well," Ramsey added, "The St. Louis Police Department did a great job training us so I feel I'm ready for anything that might arise in the future."
Of the 25 new recruits, 21 are men, four are women. The racial make-up, according to police, is 50 percent African-American.
As new recruits are set to hit the St. Louis streets, the head of the police academy wanted the public to know about a book just updated entitled In the Line of Duty. It tells the stories of 164 St. Louis police officers killed in the line of duty since 1863. Money raised from sale goes to the police foundation and to care for the memorial statue.
The public can purchase the book at the St. Louis Police Library, 315 S. Tucker, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. The cost of the book is $40. For more information call 314-444-5581.
The St. Louis Police Foundation donated funding for the research and printing of 2,000 books. For more information about the St. Louis Police Foundation, visit www.stlouispolicefoundation.org.