HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — There will be seven new officers patrolling the streets of Huntsville after graduating from the police academy on Friday.
The Huntsville Police Academy held its 67th session this year and the new recruits graduated in a room full of family, friends, and colleagues. The new officers were sworn in by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.
The 67th class was comprised of six men and one woman. The graduates are:
- Riley Adams (class vice-president)
- Bienernest Bordas
- Kristofer Butts (class president)
- Joshua Dickson (class secretary)
- Mikhail George
- Jalen Hill
- Ke’Lyin Johnson
The ceremony marked the first under new Huntsville Police Chief Kirk Giles. Giles was approved by the Huntsville City Council on December 1.
In his address to the new officers, Chief Giles thanked them for their dedication. He noted that the class started off with 15 recruits.
“In the beginning, there were 15 of you in this class and obviously they didn’t have the commitment or perseverance to finish,” the chief said.
Giles also said he hopes to see larger recruiting and graduating classes in the future.
“I’m going to say something a little offline here, but I hope this is the last time we meet in here,” he said referencing the room at the Huntsville Public Safety Training Academy. “The reason I say that is, is because we have room for seven, I want at least 27 in here and we won’t be able to hold it in here.”
In speaking with News 19 after the ceremony, Giles acknowledged the challenge law enforcement has faced in recent years.
“It’s no secret that we’ve had trouble recruiting and retention nationally,” he said, noting that the tide may be turning.
“It’s a little too early to tell but we’re starting to see an uptick in recruitment, or I should say interest if you would, both in people who want to become a police officer and for those who are already officers to move here,” Giles continued. “So we’re hopeful that we’re kind of getting over that hill.”
Giles thanked the City of Huntsville for the recent increase in pay for police and fire employees. He said he thinks that will certainly help with those recruitment and retention efforts.
According to Resolution 22-956, which was passed by the Huntsville City Council on November 17, 2022, all cadets were bumped to salary grade 14, step 8. Previously cadets were paid on grade 14, step 6. With the increase in pay, cadets are now paid $26.43 an hour, which comes out to 54,974.40 annually.
The pay was enough to get Kristofer Butts to relocate to Huntsville for the job.
“The pay is very competitive,” Butts said. “Then about part way through our academy, they ended up giving us another pay raise, which makes it more than worth our while.”
The new officer served as class president for the academy class, and received several of the awards given out at the graduation ceremony. He said although the 19 week academy is over, their work is just getting started.
“We understand we have to keep training and that this isn’t over,” Butts said. “We still have 14 more weeks at minimum of field training.”
Giles said the success of each of the new officers during the Field Training Officer (FTO) phase is “up to them”.
“It’s really going to depend on them and how well they take that knowledge and put it to practical use,” Giles concluded.
Applications are open now, if you are interested in joining Huntsville Police.