An NYPD graduating class of 781 entered the ranks Tuesday, taking an oath to honor and serve -- the bedrock of its 2013 class motto: "Through civility comes courtesy; through training comes professionalism; through honor comes respect."
The motto was reiterated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Both face criticism that the department's stop-and-frisk program targets blacks and Hispanics and that the NYPD unfairly conducts surveillance of Muslims.
But inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, both welcomed an ethnically diverse graduating class and their families.
Many graduates either served in the military, have college degrees, come from a long lineage of NYPD service, or are the first in their families to join.
Kelly recognized their diversity, citing that the graduates represent 49 countries and speak 40 different languages.
He told them a four-day meeting they attended during training on being sensitive to the city's minority communities will help them better serve the public.
The graduates illustrate "exceptional character," Kelly told them. "You've distinguished yourselves in your training and I know you'll distinguish yourselves throughout your careers.
Bloomberg told the graduates the NYPD can take credit for the city's record-low homicide and shooting rates.
"The members of this department are the reason New York can rightly call itself the nation's safest big city," Bloomberg said, citing low crime rates in 2012 and so far in 2013. "We are counting on you to build on that accomplishment."
Pierre Beitler of Hempstead said his experience will help him show he's up to the task.
Beitler, 35, the first in his family to join the NYPD, emigrated from Haiti when he was 20 and served in Iraq with the Army military police. He has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and is the father a 4-year-old daughter. Becoming a police officer gives him "a sense of purpose."
Katerina Narvaez, 27, of Queens, was motivated to serve by a tragic connection to the NYPD.
Her father, Lt. Federico Narvaez, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1996. Katerina Narvaez was just 9 years old.
"I learned all the good that he did from all the officers who worked with him," she said after the ceremony. "They would tell me how wonderful he was, and I want to be like him."