Reporting Mai Martinez
(CBS) — With crime continuing to plague Chicago, city leaders are promising to put more police on the streets — at least 600 new officer by early this fall.
As CBS 2′s Mai Martinez reports, 53 graduated Friday.
The graduation marked the realization of a dream for 53 Chicago police officers. Among them was 28-year-old Jose Rivera, Jr., who we met last fall at the Chicago police academy.
“This is something I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Rivera, grinning, said. “I’m ready to get out there and serve and protect the city of Chicago.”
“It’s refreshing to see the excitement that these officers have. They can’t wait to hit the streets,” Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said after the ceremony.
And McCarthy says they’ll be hitting the streets in some of Chicago’s toughest districts.
Rivera says his biggest concern is the “I-don’t-care” attitude some people seem to have. He refers to the senseless violence claiming the lives of young people — whether as victims or perpetrators.
He thinks he and other young recruits might be able to get through to them, before it’s too late.
“I just want to let them know that I came from a similar area, or the area of Humboldt Park, and if I can get out and do something positive and productive, they can do the same,” Rivera said. “Hopefully, I can influence somebody’s life and maybe change somebody’s life.”
The officers are considered probationary police officers until they’ve completed 13 months in the field. Then they’ll become full-fledged police officers.
Rivera reports for duty Sunday.