New CMPD officers diverse in experience, age
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to the newest members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on Friday during a ceremony in which 51 recruits graduated from CMPD's police academy. Their jobs are funded by $8.5 million in federal stimulus money. While Holder was a high-profile guest of honor, the new officers remained the focus of the ceremony. WFAE's Greg collard was there and filed this report. CMPD's newest class of cadets is diverse in both race and age. Typical police recruits are in their 20s. At 44, Clemson Williams is easily the oldest. "I was a 21-year Army Veteran. After 21 years of serving my country, I figure what greater way to serve the city of Charlotte than to serve my community," he says. Charlissa Reiber is 39. Like Williams, this is also a career change. She had been in sales for a printing company. "I always thought about becoming a police officer and figured I wasn't getting any younger so I decided now as the time to try it," Reiber says. This cadet class is clearly a tight-knit group. They went through 906 hours of training over 23 weeks. Some of that training was shown in a video. Let's just say if you want a good laugh, watch cadets get tasered and pepper-sprayed. Charlotte received $8.5 million in stimulus funding to hire these officers. That's not enough to keep them indefinitely, but Chief Rodney Money isn't worried they'll be the victims of future cutbacks. "We've already received a commitment from the city, City Council and City Manager, that we're going to be able to carry these 50 officers beyond the 4-year period, so I think the commitment that the city has made to the community to say that we believe that public safety is important, that we're going to fund it, it's going to allow us to move forward and create greater visibility in the city." CMPD now has 1,725 sworn officers. 23-year-old Charles Thompson Jr. is among them. He's also changing careers. Thompson is a mortician, which has made him the butt of many jokes from other cadets. "(Like) stiff competition. Warm heart, cold hands." Thompson started working in a funeral home at the age of 15. But it's long been his goal to become a police officer. His first day on the job is tomorrow.