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The Journal Gazette

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Officer Nathan B. Riemer hugs his son Connor Riemer during the Fort Wayne Police Department's 62nd basic recruit class graduation Thursday at Rhinehart Music Center. Twenty-six recruits were added to the force.

Friday, June 16, 2017 1:00 am

26 new officers all high achievers

City's force now just 10 from goal of 466

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

New Fort Wayne Officer Keith Harris knew he wanted to be a policeman about four years ago.

Still, the 25-year-old Elmhurst High School football player and graduate went on to get his master's in business administration at the University of Saint Francis, where he also played football.

“He's on the wall,” said his mother, Felicia Harris, who Thursday pinned the badge on her son's police uniform at the 62nd basic recruit class graduation for the Fort Wayne Police Department.

Harris was one of 26 new officers, a class that graduated one woman and two African-American men and two recruits who speak Spanish.

With a goal of reaching 466 officers, the department is now at 456, Police Chief Steve Reed said. Fort Wayne is planning another basic recruitment at the end of this year that will allow the department to reach capacity.

The new officers were a high-achieving group, with an overall test score average of 92 percent, said Capt. Scott W. Berning of the training center staff.

The new officers also had to do 50 situps in one minute, 45 pushups in one minute and run 1.5 miles in 111/2 minutes or less as part of extensive physical training, Berning added.

Russell A. McCurdy, a veteran Fort Wayne firefighter, was also in the graduating class.

Former Police Chief Rusty York, Reed and others told the new officers to take time for their families and for themselves as they face the dangers of modern policing.

With the “proliferation of assault weapons, (you are) hitting the streets in a much more dangerous environment than we ever did,” York said to the graduates, who sat still looking ahead with a hand placed on each knee.

Harris said he grew up on the southeast side of Fort Wayne and had friends who went the wrong way. He hopes to be a positive force in the community, he said.

“Any encounter I've ever had (with the police) has been positive,” Harris said.

Harris was accompanied by his fiancée, Brianna Myles, and sons Zyaire, 2, and Kendrick, 3, in addition to his mother and other family members.

Felicia Harris said she was surprised when her son decided to go into law enforcement but supported him.

“Nonetheless, it will just keep me praying more for his safety,” she said.