On Thursday, 29 men and women prepared to embark on their new careers in law enforcement.
At the top of their class is James Webber, a new officer headed to the Santa Maria Police Department. “Oh gosh – I’ve been wanting to get into law enforcement for a while,” says Webber.
He’s not alone – one of the most awarded members of Webber’s class, Tiffanie Delaney, will be joining him at SMPD.
“I’ve known for as long as I can remember that I wanted to become a police officer; it took a little bit of convincing to get my friends and family on board but once I did it was full throttle from there,” Delaney tells us.
While new officers Webber and Delaney always knew they wanted to get into some form of law enforcement, for some people it takes more convincing which has led to a statewide shortage of recruits.
“You know recruitment is a challenge in this environment and I think quite honestly it speaks to the character of the people we are bringing on board today that they sort of ignored those noises,” says Bernard Melekian, Under Sheriff of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Some of those “noises” include the anti-police sentiments that are at an all time high across the country. Delaney and Webber tell us however, they hope they get to change people’s opinions.
“I get to help to kinda knock down that image and help the current law enforcement family rebuild our reputation and prove what we actually stand for,” Delaney says.
“The love for law enforcement ebbs and flows so right now law enforcement is kinda getting hit hard but eventually it’ll turn back around,” says Webber.
People with some of the highest opinions of them are their families; they couldn’t be more proud of their graduates.
“He’s always been a leader and always looked out for the little guy so I’m sure he’s going to be a wonderful police officer,” says Webber’s parents Mary and James.
New officers Delaney and Webber say they will start their next round of training with the Santa Maria Police Department on Monday.