This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS – Twenty-three new officers joined the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. On Thursday, they were all sworn into service in a special graduation ceremony.

Chief John Hayden got a little emotional while delivering his speech to the new recruits. The chief made it clear that he will make it his duty to make sure every officer goes home to their families.

These new recruits are coming into the department as city voters just approved in November to raise their salaries.

New officers will now be at a starting salary of $48,000.

However, no matter how much money they are given, Emily Ilse, the recruit class president, says their mission to serve the people in St. Louis.

While his new officers are very energized to start protecting their community, Chief Hayden is breathing a sigh of relief after having a tough time getting and keeping officers.

“I’m pleased and grateful that we were able to graduate 23 recruits tonight,” Chief Hayden said. “We lost a few along the way and I’m just thankful we have some to make up that deficit. We are 144 officers short and so this is a great day for me so that we can bridge that gap from the deficit that we have.”

Officer Ilse says her class is aware of the divide between police and the community and their goal is to make a bridge for a better tomorrow.

“I really want to bring the community back together, rebuild that trust that kind of been lost,” Officer Iles said. “I know there’s some members of the community that don’t always interact well with officers or maybe have a negative idea of what we do. I really want to bring us together and kind of bridge that gap, talk to people and have them trust us and call us when they need us.”