"Today has been a pretty amazing moment for me," smiles new HPD Officer David Johnson who is the President of this graduating Cadet Class #252.
There were lots of cheers and tears when the cadets crossed the stage at the Houston Police Academy becoming rookie officers.
They achieved a personal goal that is expected to benefit the entire city as Houston tries to turn the increase in crime in the opposite direction.
"We need more boots on the ground," says Houston Police Officer Union (HPOU) President Doug Griffith. "The mayor has committed to six classes a year."
"We do have one or two persons a month that come in, especially the young officers who say this just isn’t for me, but we also have a lot of young officers, my nephew's a police officer, my cousin's a police officer," adds HPOU Executive Director Ray Hunt. "They’re both very young, and they still like to get out there and put bad guys in jail."
21-year-old Graduating Cadet Vanessa Ramirez says she wants to do the same.
"You know the crime is out there, and I want to be a change," she explained. "I think it concerns everybody. Everybody wants to go home to their families".
Why do these cadets want to protect and serve even in this climate of increased crime?
"I feel like it’s needed. A lot of people don’t want to do these things and I feel like this is the time when people have to step up." Officer Johnson adds.
"When I looked out at these 61 officers I saw the diversity of the city of Houston on full display." says Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
This new class comes as the police union and city reach a 3 year, $125-million contract that comes with police pay raises.
"The first year they’ll be getting added pay of 4%. The second year will be 3% and the third will be 3.5%." explains the mayor. The contract still has to be voted on and approved by Houston City Council.