BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Business Insider ranks Baton Rouge at No. 25 on its list of America's most violent cities, but the city's police department just put out more than 20 new ways to fight crime.
The 79th Baton Rouge Police Department Basic Training Academy held its commencement ceremony Monday morning.
"Excited, ready to go out there," said Officer Natasha Strickland. "Can't wait, I start work tomorrow. I'm ready to go."
Strickland was all smiles after graduating from the training academy. She's one of 27 in her class that will hit the streets Tuesday. She said her new job is a dream come true.
"It's something that I always wanted to do. I was a little hesitant, being a female, at first. But, I finally said, 'This is where my passion lies. I'm going to go ahead and try to pursue it,'" she explained.
Strickland is one of just two women to graduate from this year's academy. She was named president of her class. Strickland admitted the police academy was tough.
"There's times where you want to give up and you can't and you know that people's lives are depending on it. And, if you put that in your mind, then you won't stop. Everyone had a breaking point, but once you get to that breaking point, you got to keep going," she added.
The new officers celebrated with their families. It was loved ones who actually pinned the badges on them. Provisional Chief Carl Dabadie said this group represents the changing face of a police officer.
"It used to be the biggest guy you can find and he was the policeman," Dabadie said. "Well, that just doesn't work anymore."
For this class, it was an intense 20 weeks, being tested on subjects like law, interpersonal communication and defensive driving. The highlight for Strickland was learning how to shoot.
"I went from never pulling a trigger before to shooting a 119, which is one point from perfect. So, that was the most fun," she said.
The graduates will be paired with veteran officers and apply what they have learned on the streets of the Capital City.
BRPD is looking to start the next training academy early next year.