WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Diamond City has a new group of police officers ready to protect and serve.
Seven officers were sworn in Monday morning at a time when departments across the country, including Wilkes-Barre, struggle to retain and recruit law enforcement.
“It’s a lifelong dream, it’s a lifelong dream come true,” said newly sworn-in Wilkes-Barre Police Officer Anthony Demark
Newly sworn-in, Officer Demark says he’s ready to protect the citizens of Wilkes-Barre. Demark brings with him five years of service as an officer in surrounding communities.
“My biggest thing is bridging the gap, I want to be the officer that people can look up to, that people know can be a friend of the community,” Officer Demark said.
Five men and two women were sworn in Monday morning at city hall by Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown.
A diverse group with a wide range of skill levels to add to the Wilkes-Barre City Police Department at a time when departments across the country continue to struggle to recruit officers.
Three of them with previous experience, including a familiar face for Chief Joe Coffay, Edward Urban.
Urban started as a patrolman for the Wilkes-Barre Police Department before serving 27 years as a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper.
“A guy that started with me and my career, and he went on to the state police and now he’s back because he wants to continue to serve and serve with the city of Wilkes-Barre,” stated Chief Coffay.
These four went to the Allentown Police Academy together for the last six months.
“Originally I was most nervous for the physical portion of it. However it’s definitely both mentally and physically exhausting,” newly sworn-in Officer Stephanie Wychock said.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said another sworn-in Officer Melissa Benson.
Both women come from a law enforcement family. Officer Benson will now work beside her dad and brother, both Wilkes-Barre City Police Officers. Officer Wychock also comes from a law enforcement family.
While sworn in, she was backed by her brother, a Pennsylvania State Trooper, and her dad, a retired Wilkes-Barre city police officer.
“Wilkes-Barre is a great department and a great city. I’ve been living up here for a long time and looking to serve my community best I can,” newly sworn-in Officer Joshua McLeod explained.
Officer McLeod is also ready to join the force along with Shawn Mulligan and Dennis McKeown.
The new class of officers will now go through a three-month program. There, they will learn about the Wilkes-Barre Police Department and complete other training.