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THE INVESTIGATORS: BRPD graduates 9 cadets; faces more than 100 vacancies

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 5:40 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2021 at 5:41 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Nine more officers walked across the stage and took the oath to protect and serve in Baton Rouge on Monday, Oct. 18, but that is low compared to the number of officers that usually graduate.

The Baton Rouge Police Department has more than 100 vacancies right now but the chief says they are getting creative and doing what they can to get more officers on the streets in order to keep you safe.

The pomp and circumstance was on full display as nine brave men and women took the oath and prepared to protect and serve their community as officers with the BRPD. It’s a big day for Caruntai Harrell. She is the president of the graduating class and one of four women in the group.

She said it has been a grueling 22 weeks but the current moment is worth it.

“The hardest 22 weeks of my life to be honest,” said Harrell. “It’s a lot of sacrifices, a lot of early mornings and late nights up shining brass and shining boots and just getting comfortable being uncomfortable. You are constantly learning something new every day. Every time you learn something, it’s something more to be learned. It’s always a learning process.”

Constant learning is an important lesson she hopes her young son soaks up. Harrell has been putting this off for a while now but added she’s glad she finally took the plunge.

“I just felt like I wasn’t ready but I’m happy that I came when I came because everything I’ve been through literally prepared me for this moment,” she explained.

The moment is critical for the BRPD. As crime ticks up in the Capital Region, the number of officers on the streets is taking a hit. Right now, there are 113 vacancies with the agency. With this new blood coming in and with the next academy already set for December with a higher than normal class size, Chief Murphy Paul is encouraged more officers will hit the street soon. He added they have five officers on deck at this time who want to transfer into BRPD from other agencies.

“When we fill those vacancies, then we can do a lot of the proactive things,” said Chief Paul. “Unfortunately, when you do have high calls for services and high crime, we need police officers to investigate those crimes and we also need officers to do those proactive things and work with some of the initiatives that are designed to reduce crime in our community.”

It’s not just a problem BRPD is facing. The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office also has plenty of spots to fill. Right now, it has 820 deputies within the agency and a total of 65 vacancies.

Paul said it’s up to them to beef up their recruiting efforts and find the folks he knows are out there, ready to join their ranks.

“There are serving hearts out there who want to be part of law enforcement,” said Chief Paul.

The officers who graduated Monday will now go through the field training program and then directly to uniform patrol.

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