Police Chief Derrick Diggs told Toledo’s aspiring police officers Tuesday he was so excited about the start of the city’s largest police class since 1983, he had trouble sleeping.
“You should be excited to be here, you should be fired up to be here,” Chief Diggs said, addressing a class of 75 candidates. “Normally I don’t get much sleep at night. I didn’t get [any] sleep last night because I’m fired up to have you in this academy class.”
PHOTO GALLERY: The new cadets of TPD's 61st class
Chief Diggs spoke during a ceremony that officially kicked off the 61st Toledo Police Department Basic Police Officer Academy class at the Toledo Police Academy, 30439 Tracy Rd., Walbridge, on the Owens Community College campus, at the Fire Science and Law Enforcement Center.
“Look among you. There are 75 of you sitting here. This is the largest police academy class in the last 30 years,” Chief Diggs said. “Mayor Bell, thank you. Thank you, for in the tough economic times you showed the leadership that helped staff the police department and get our staff at a level where it needs to be.”
The recruits will add to the more than 580 officers either patrolling the streets or in command positions.
At least one of the police candidates Tuesday shared the police chief’s excitement and the resulting sleeping problem.
“I slept very little,” candidate Thomas Dale said. “I am right with the chief on that one. I didn’t get a lot of sleep. I was very excited, anxious, nervous. I was also very fired up about today.”
Mr. Dale, 26, a Detroit native who holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Bowling Green State University, said he was recruited “right out of college” by Target Corp. to hold a manager’s job at a store in Fort Wayne, Ind. He said he liked his job in retail as an executive team leader, but he was so impressed by police called to the store to assist with shoplifters and safety issues that last year, he decided to “switch careers and become a police officer.”
What swayed him, he said, was “how [the police] conducted themselves, how they handled a variety of incidents we had at the store, just seeing their ability to handle those situations, the professionalism involved with it.
“I just want to become the best police officer right now, to learn as much as I can,” Mr. Dale said.
Chief Diggs also called on the candidates to focus on their studies and training, warning they will receive no leniency and will be held to academy standards.
“My suggestion to you is to focus on your studies, focus on your training, listen to your instructors,” the chief said. “In other words, from now on you need to eat, sleep, drink TPD blue.”
The 30-minute event ended with an oath of office administered by Chief Diggs.
City spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said Toledo’s original 2013 operating budget called for a class of 50 candidates, but because of a $1.25-million police grant, some matching money from the city’s general fund, and part of a refund from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, the city managed to raise the number of candidates to 75.
The trainees are to complete 26 weeks, or 1,040 hours, of training. The class is scheduled to graduate April 17.