Suffolk County swore in 106 new police recruits Monday, its largest class since 2006.
"It is not an easy thing to be a police officer, particularly these days," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told the recruits during the ceremony at Suffolk County Community College's Brentwood campus.
"When you are a police officer and you leave your home reporting for duty, you do not know what you will be facing on the force that day. You do not know if you may be facing a life-or-death situation. . . ."
The recruits were admitted after the June 2011 police exam. They will undergo months of rigorous training before graduating in April, county officials said.
Recruit Adilia Murillo, 25, of Brentwood, said she wanted to be a Suffolk police officer because "it's one of the best jobs out there."
Brian Lipford, 35, of Amityville and a former NYPD housing cop in Bushwick, said he changed departments because he was raised on Long Island.
"My mother is my biggest supporter," Lipford said. "She loves that I'm coming to Suffolk and getting out of Brooklyn."
Jonathan Senese, 24, of Hauppauge, was inspired by his father, a Suffolk police sergeant in the Third Precinct.
"He taught me how much of an honor it is to wear the Suffolk County shield," Senese said.
All three agreed it is a tough time to go into law enforcement in light of the negative attention police have received nationwide.
But they each said it's up to them to gain the confidence of the community.
Murillo vowed "to do my best to instill some trust and some relatability."
Senese said people shouldn't fear police officers.
"The public needs to get away from being afraid of the police and run to us," he said.
In June, Bellone approved the hiring of a new class of 100 police recruits. The new group is larger than the class of 65 positions that officials said had been allocated in the 2015 budget.
There are 2,340 sworn officers, not including the new recruits, Suffolk police said.
The new recruits are being hired under the police contract approved in 2012. The hires cost $7.9 million and come from the 2016 police fund budget, said county spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter.
Under the previous contract, the hires would have cost the county $10.3 million, she said.
Bellone said Monday the selection of the next recruits depends on Suffolk striking a balance between what is needed to fight crime and what the county can afford.
"One of the things that is great is that under the new contract with the PBA, these new officers are considered more affordable than the existing officers," Bellone said.
The 106 recruits are composed of five African-American men, one Asian man, 18 white women, 63 white men, five Hispanic women and 14 Hispanic men.
There are 12 Spanish speakers among the recruits and more than half the class -- 67 -- have college degrees.An additional 34 recruits were also sworn in to attend training to become officers with the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department; Stony Brook University and Farmingdale Village; East Hampton and Southampton towns, and Hempstead Village.