MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Montgomery Police Academy graduated 18 new officers Friday.
The men and women in blue took the oath just weeks after an officer-involved fatal shooting in the Mobile Heights neighborhood.
Officer Aaron Smith shot and killed a man while on patrol. Smith stands accused of murder.
The new officers are young, fresh-faced and eager to step into a new profession. As with any graduation ceremony, the atmosphere was positive at Montgomery City Hall, full of applause along with a few laughs and a motivational speech.
"Let's be motivated. Let's be positive," said guest speaker and pastor Kyle Searcy of Fresh Anointing International Church.
This class is fully aware of the inherent dangers of the job.
"You know, every job carries its risks. You have to come to terms with it. You're trained and failure is not an option," said the 20-year old Chance Wheeler.
The mayor sees the new crop of officers as part of the healing process moving on from a dark time. In fact, the mayor says the cadets were kept abreast of what was going on about the shooting during a recent meeting with the police department.
"As a matter of fact, they sat on the front row. They are new into the system. They had a lot of questions. What we're trying to do -- provide some of those answers, get them with some training officers that will help them along the way," said Mayor Todd Strange.
Moms like Sharon Woods learned long ago you can't worry about what may or may not happen. Woods is proud of her son Chance.
"I had fear in my heart, but I know Chance is going to do what's right. He lives a Godly life," said Woods.
With that, the new officers took the oath. They are newly minted and armed with confidence and ready to make a difference and more than ready to face the unknown.
Chance Wheeler officially clocks in at MPD Easter Sunday night and will ride with a training partner for 16 weeks. The most recent class started out with 19 students but lost one due to academic reasons.