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34 new Syracuse police officers sworn in during challenging time for law enforcement

Tom Magnarelli
New Syracuse police officers board the bus for the police academy.

The city of Syracuse has sworn in 34 new police officers. It comes at a challenging time for law enforcement in Syracuse and across the country.

Syracuse has had 28 murders so far in 2016, the most  in the last five years. The Syracuse Police Department has received more calls reporting shootings this year compared to 2015. Police Chief Frank Fowler said the department is committed to trying to make a difference. On top of that, Fowler said, the police in general, can be targeted unfairly by some in the public and the media.

“We take a small amount of incidents that occur across the country, and through that we gain a negative perspective and place that upon all police officers," Fowler said. "That’s the way things are reported, but it is really not the case. We need police officers out there on the street answering the call for service. As our police officers we currently have within our ranks, they get older, they reach the retirement age, they leave and go on to another chapter in lives and we need to have someone to replace them. That's what these young recruits are here for.”

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said there has been violence and tension this year between certain communities and police officers across the country. But Miner said she and Fowler are dedicated to having the best possible relationship with Syracuse residents. She said the evidence it is working can be seen in how many people applied for these 34 new officer positions.  

"When you see over 800 people apply to be police officers, then you understand that there is still a patina and a respect that goes along with the badge and people still want to join,” Miner said. "This is a diverse class as well so it will bring another level of experience, another level of education to our police officers. It is always good to inject new blood so you can temper the kind of inherent cynicism that goes with being in a job for a long time; a fresh-faced enthusiasm."

Miner also said the new officers will help relieve some of the police overtime costs which have amounted to almost $13 million in the past fiscal year.

Six of the 34 new officers are city residents but Syracuse police officers are not required to live in the city. Eight officers in the class are female and six officers are people of color.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.