SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Many law enforcement agencies are struggling to recruit the next generation of police officers.
Despite the thinning blue line, there’s a sign of hope Thursday night coming out of a local police academy graduation. For the first time in program history all of the newly-minted Lackawanna College Police Academy graduates have been hired by two local police departments.
10 distinguished cadets graduated Thursday night from the Lackawanna College Police Academy. Family members and friends filled the audience to watch the special ceremony, honoring the 255th class.
Getting to this point took dedication and hard work. The cadets put in nearly 1,000 hours of training and took countless exams; all to prepare them for a future in law enforcement.
“I knew what I was getting myself into, having served as a law enforcement officer in the Marine Corps. I am ready to get out there,” graduate Carlos Muniz Jr. said.
But these graduates have a head-start.
“This is the first academy program that all of the cadets were hired by a municipality as full-time officers prior to the start of the academy,” director of academy operations John Chilleri said.
Four are joining the Wilkes-Barre Police Department and six are going to the Scranton Police Department.
“I’m very excited. It brings our complement up to where it should be and puts more officers on the street and it gives us well-trained officers,” Joseph Coffay of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department said.
Help that both municipalities say is much-needed.
“We do have several vacancies and we’re able to fill those vacancies with these new officers and get them trained as quick as possible to get them out serving the public,” Scranton Police Department Chief Leonard Namiotka said.
Zachary Zelenski looks forward to working in his hometown of Scranton.
“When I was younger, I would always have contact with police officers, and every contact with a police officer was always positive, so I thought it might have been a good career to go into,” Zelenski said.
Muniz Jr. offers this advice.
“Anyone consider making the switch into it, don’t let current events get you down, don’t let the naysayers get the best of you. If you want to serve your community, do your part,” Muniz Jr. said.
The program was partially funded by both the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre Police Departments.