NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly embraced a new class of recruits Wednesday -- all 1,231, who were sworn in and are expected to hit the streets this winter after six months of study and physical-endurance training at the police academy.
"After six months, you will be in the best physical shape of your lives," said Kelly, who lauded the new class' varied backgrounds -- from serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to being immigrants from 50 countries. More than a third of the recruits are college undergraduates.
"You have precious skills and valuable life experiences to contribute to our mission," said Kelly. He rattled off a litany of duties rookie officers are expected to perform when they start their patrols in December and January, from handling noise complaints and domestic squabbles to counterterrorism.
"You will have been prepared to patrol the streets of the greatest city in the world. You will be among the privileged. You made a great choice," said Kelly, who received thunderous applause from inside the Kupferberg Center at Queens College.
"But I'll be fourth generation in my family to be a police officer," said Smith. She said seeing her father in his uniform influenced her decision.
"It was the uniform and seeing my father ready to go. For me, it was a sign of loyalty to the city," said Smith, who has an associate degree in criminal justice from Nassau Community College.
New recruit Gulzar Hussain, 24, of Ozone, Queens, grew up in Bangladesh. He came to the United States when he was 10.
"I always wanted to be a police officer," said Hussain, who has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from John Jay College in Manhattan. "I want to give a different point of view and show the positive side of being a police officer."
"I'm really happy and excited. I always wanted to be a cop since I was a little kid . . . to help and protect people," said Buffa, who also is a volunteer firefighter.
The new class of recruits will bolster the ranks. New York City has about 34,000 police officers. In 2001 there were about 40,000.