Thank you, Chief Monroe. It’s a pleasure to be with you, an old friend and colleague, and to see the great work that you and your team are doing here at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. While I’m impressed, I’m not at all surprised. Years ago, when I served as D.C.’s United States Attorney, Chief Monroe was the city’s Assistant Chief of Police. We worked together often, especially on efforts to reduce youth violence. He was an outstanding leader and partner. And I can tell you that D.C.’s loss is definitely your gain.
Today, I’m honored to join Chief Monroe in welcoming 51 new additions to this team, and I want to thank you for inviting me to participate in today’s ceremony.
As we commemorate this milestone and honor these graduates, all of us should pause and reflect on the fact that, without the historic investment of last year’s American Recovery and Investment Act, which was signed into law one year ago this week, we wouldn’t be here today. That’s because 50 of the 51 police jobs being filled by today’s graduates were created through this legislative effort. Without the Recovery Act, the public safety needs and challenges these graduates will soon address here in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area may have gone unmet.
Fortunately, the President and members of Congress decided to stand with communities in need of help. Communities like this one, which will now have 50 additional police officers on the beat for at least the next four years. These 50 positions represent a small fraction of the 60,000 jobs that have been created or saved in North Carolina by these funds.
I’m proud that our administration backs up our commitment to law enforcement not just with words, but with the resources our partners need.
To today’s graduates, I want to say that it is an honor for me to share this momentous day with you and your families. Each one of you has worked hard to get here. And all of you have proven that you have the ability, the drive, and the determination to succeed.
But today is not only about recognizing that which you’ve accomplished in the last 23 weeks. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the contributions that you will surely make, in this community and beyond, in the years ahead.
Today, as this Police Department’s 158th recruit class moves forward, you join a long tradition of service. Many others have traveled this same path and moved forward from this same place. But this class has stood out. You’ve come together in extraordinary ways. And you’ve forged an uncommon and obvious bond.
One of your trainers has described how, despite the diversity of your class, you quickly became "one big family." Perhaps this is how you defied the odds, distinguishing yourselves as one of the only recruit classes in history not to lose a single member in those initial, most difficult, weeks of training. It is rare to have a recruit class achieve what you have -- a 96% graduation rate. But, then again, this is no ordinary group.
When asked to choose a motto, you picked "One Team, One Dream." For this class, it proved to be more than a simple saying. It’s a pronouncement of your commitment to yourselves, to each other, and to the communities and citizens you soon will be serving. It’s the goal that sustained you through nearly six months of training and more than 900 hours of law enforcement courses.
I’m sure many of those days were difficult – both for you and the family members and friends who supported you through them. But what has set you apart – and what now binds you together – is how you responded to these challenges. You chose to support each other, to have faith in yourselves, and to hold tight to your dreams of protecting and assisting others.
I salute your resilience. And I’m grateful for your resolve. But it’s this city’s communities, neighborhoods, and families who will benefit most from the strength you summoned from yourselves and inspired in each other. The work you are now eager and well-prepared to do is among the most important commitments to public service an individual can make.
Today, I’m pleased to welcome the 51 new members to our nation’s law enforcement community and to our shared work. Though this community spans every state and county, and across all levels of government, in many ways we are, like this class, "one team." And the dreams we share are many – safety, security, fairness, and – ultimately – justice.
I’m privileged to count you all as partners. And I’m very proud to call you my colleagues.
Congratulations on a job well done. I look forward to working with you and seeing what this outstanding class will accomplish in the days ahead.