Seventy new Suffolk County Police Department recruits — 18% of whom are minorities — began their rigorous 31-week training on Monday.
"Working for the Suffolk County Police Department is much more than a job," said Acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron during a swearing-in ceremony in Brentwood. "Once you get out on patrol you'll have opportunities each day to profoundly improve the lives of the great people of Suffolk County."
The new class was sworn in as the department moves to diversify its predominantly white ranks.
Newsday reported early this year that Long Island’s police forces remain overwhelmingly white despite decades of federal oversight meant to diversify its ranks.
Black and Hispanic applicants are less likely to be hired by both the Nassau and Suffolk police departments, which rejected candidates of color at rates that exceeded federal standards used to uncover evidence of discrimination, the Newsday investigation revealed.
Suffolk hired just 16 Black police officers — out of a pool of 1,419 Black applicants — in the four years following the administration of its 2015 written police test.
Of a pool of 3,564 Hispanic applicants, 45 were hired as police officers from that same test. As of March, Suffolk employed 61 Black officers while Nassau had 103 despite the Department of Justice monitoring the hiring practices of both departments under federal consent decrees for the last four decades.
Each department has about 2,400 sworn officers.
The department's new class includes 10 Hispanic candidates, 2 Black recruits, one Asian and 11 women. Seven are fluent Spanish speakers while 20 have prior law enforcement experience and 17 previously served in the military. All but four candidates had some college or postgraduate education.
The department last April swore in its most diverse class which was comprised of 28% minorities.
The new 182nd recruitment class also has 14 recruits from outside law enforcement agencies including the County Sherriff’s Office, and town police departments in Riverhead, East Hampton and Southold.
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini, standing in for County Executive Steve Bellone, who is recovering from a breakthrough case of COVID-19, said the recruits were taking on an "awesome responsibility"
"Make sure every single day that you wake up and say 'how can I execute today? How can I end today better than when I started?,'" Sini said. "If you do that each and every day you're going to be successful and you are going to be well positioned to protect the great residents of Suffolk County."