ST. LOUIS – Thirteen new recruits were sworn in as the 2022-02 class of police officers for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Eleven men and two women officially became part of the force Thursday, each one receiving a handshake and a police badge to the applause of friends, family and new colleagues.

“It’s very heartwarming. He’s always wanted to be the kind of person that helps and serves people,” said Wendy Atchinson, mother of a new recruit.

The new officers went through 33 weeks of rigorous physical training and courses. Now, they will start the new year out on patrol.

“There’s a lot of stuff we can change, and there’s a lot of stuff I love about the city, but making sure we can make the city the best place it can be is a blessing to us,” said SLMPD Class President Stephen Meyer.

“They’ve worked so hard and they’ve worked hard to make sure they’re ready to go,” said SLMPD Major Renee Kriesmann.

The new class comes at a time of change. The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association says the department is short more than 200 officers, losing an average of 13 every month. The new class sworn in on Thursday consists of 13 officers.

Between staffing shortages, a high crime rate, and a new police chief starting in the coming weeks, although small, this new batch of those in blue mark a significant chapter in the department’s history.

“While things change and sometimes the dynamic looks a little bit different, the job is still the same, the job is about helping people when they need to be helped, keeping people safe and doing all we can for our community,” said Major Kriesmann, “We’re going to take this smaller work force, and we’re going to work harder, we’re going to work smarter, and we’re going to do all we can.”