BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Police Department welcomed a new class of trainees Monday during a time when officials said the city needs them the most.

Thirty-two recruits, many from Baltimore, started their first day at the police academy, hoping to eventually join the eighth-largest municipal police force in the country.

“These were the successful candidates who applied and were suitable and had the right temperament and had the right work history and education,” Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said.

For the next 30 weeks, the recruits will go through an extensive training program.

Harrison said he’s pleased recruiting efforts are improving.

“This shows the evolution of the department, its growth, its maturity that we are bringing new people in and living up to the promise of bringing new police on,” Harrison said. “This means manpower will get to the streets faster.”

Harrison stood alongside Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young to offer some words of advice for the future officers.

“No one has the option of giving up because out there we don’t give up,” Harrison said. “We never give up; people are counting on us to come when they call.”

The new recruits join the department at a time where the city has seen five consecutive years with more than 300 homicides; in 2019, the city saw a per-capita record of 48 homicides.

While the murder rate is up, there are fewer officers to solve them; Harrison said the department is facing about 350 vacancies.

“Now what we need to do is work to keep more people here longer as we bring more people on,” he said.

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