Recruit graduation adds 5 to Hattiesburg police force

Recruit graduation adds 5 to Hattiesburg police force
Mayor Johnny DuPree delivers the oath to officers

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Police Department added five officers to the force Friday with the graduation of Recruit Class 32.

Family and friends along with fellow officers gathered at the Hattiesburg Police and Fire Academy for the ceremony.

Edmond Blanquera, Sanchez Johnson, Corina McSwain, Aaron Payne and Megan Rue entered the ceremony as recruits, and exited as sworn officers for the City of Hattiesburg.

Hattiesburg Police Chief Frazier Bolton, again announced his retirement to the officers and members of the crowd, saying this would probably be the last recruit class that he sees graduate, because after 45 years in law enforcement he is retiring in August.

Bolton delivered a few key points to officers telling them to value time with their family, as well as to keep their dignity and do not tarnish the badge.

According to Hattiesburg Police Lt. Jon Traxler, the graduating five puts the departments total at 109 officers.

"It always adds a plus to our department, it gives us better ability to serve the public of course, and always put more on the streets is the best thing about it," said Traxler.

Forrest County Justice Court Judge Gay Polk-Payton delivered the commencement address on behalf of the new recruits.

Payton addressed the tension and animosity between the media and police, as well as the negative light being shown on law enforcement across the nation.

"Do what true honor really means. Do what you would do if everybody was watching, even if nobody is watching," said Payton.

DuPree raised his right and to guide the officers in their oath to the city.

He also bragged to the crowd looking on that they should in fact be proud of the Hattiesburg Police Department, as well as the new officers that will be hitting the streets.

"13 recruits started this program, and only five finished. This is the best, of the best, of the best," said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree.