KNOXVILLE (WATE) – For the first time in three years, the Knoxville Police Department has taken in a class of police recruits. Thirty-nine men and women began the intense process Monday to see if they have what it takes to become a Knoxville police officer.
“It just kind of runs in my blood, always looked forward to doing it,” said recruit Melissa Hernandez.
Both of Hernandez’s grandfathers served as special forces in the military which is why being a cadet this year means more to her than pursuing a dream; it’s carrying on a legacy.
“I knew that if I didn’t do it I would regret it and that’s one of those things you can’t just bypass,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez waited two years for a recruit class to open up, went through two military deployments and the passing of her grandfather before she could be a recruit herself – something she knows her grandmother would be proud of.
“When he passed away she was big on me doing it so when she found out I was doing it she actually passed away right when they actually told me I was accepted, so that was kind of a sign for me to take that opportunity,” Hernandez said.
Thirty-eight other KPD recruits surrounded her on Monday, beginning their 28-week journey toward becoming law enforcement officers as well.
“Each with a different reason, perspective and background for answering the call of service,” said recruit Andrell Cummings. “It’s almost just like a job it’s just something we love to do we don’t feel like we’re any better or any different than anybody else in the community it’s just something a love and passion we have and we wouldn’t change it for the world.”
For Cummings, it was leaving his Rural/Metro fire station after 11 years to answer his calling, one that in more recent years has changed to where officers themselves can become the target at times.
“Scared? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared but I’m still going to do the job no matter what,” said Cummings.
“The fact that we have these folks sitting here today even under that understanding of scrutiny that comes with this job makes it even that more special,” said Chief David Rausch with the Knoxville Police Department
From start to finish it will take a little over a year to complete the entire academy recruit process. After these next 28 weeks, the recruits who have made it through will spend an additional 17 weeks in field training before finally becoming Knoxville police officers.