LUBBOCK, Texas — The Lubbock Police Department celebrated its latest academy cadets officially becoming police officers on Monday. 

Class 2022A is the first graduating class of the year. The 19 cadets made up the biggest graduating in 15 years. The last class, Class 2021B, had just six cadets.

Lieutenant Brady Cross has been a part of LPD for almost 14 years. He said these new officers will help the department keep up with the rapid growth of the city.

“We’re trying to boost our numbers,” Cross said. “It’s no secret that we’ve been behind for a while, and having 19 graduates is a great step in the right direction.” 

142 people took the entrance exam to join the force, but then, the numbers just kept dwindling. Applicants had to pass the physical fitness test, a background check and a board interview.

The next step, was the academy. 31 people started the journey on Feb. 14, but only 19 men persevered.

“The academy is 6:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” new LPD officer Tobias Contreras said. “I usually studied 20 hours every week, outside of being at the academy for 40 hours.”

Contreras said he’d been working toward becoming a police officer for more than five years. Now, he is officially sworn in.

“It’s definitely one of the greatest days of my life beyond my kids being born, and my wedding day,” Contreras said.

Contreras said this did not come easy, but the difficult times brought him closer to his class.

“We studied together, we sweat together, we work out together, we get nervous together as a group,” Contreras said. “Going through all that hardship together has really just made us brothers.”

Three awards were given at the ceremony to the new officers. Carson Lockerd was the Honors Graduate, Tanner Thomas received Highest Academic Average and Lockerd and Drew Hunt tied for Highest Shooting Average.

In addition to celebrating the 19 graduates, Cpl. Brandon Stewart was promoted to Sergeant.

Every graduating class chooses a class speaker to represent them at the ceremony. Class 2022A chose Contreras as their class speaker, and he said they are all ready to hit the ground running.

“Our whole class has worked so hard, and we’re so ready to get out and actually start giving back to the community,” Contreras said.

The new LPD officers are Zachary Adams, Tobias Contreras, Juan Escobar-Avalos, Christian Escobedo, Drew Hunt, Donovon Locke, Carson Lockerd, Caleb Lovelace, Ryan Mauch, Jonathan McDermott, Levi Ridley, Zared Rodriquez, Vincent Romero, Jacob Strickland, Tanner Thomas, Michael Thompson, Devon Torres, Joshua Vasquez and Nathan Whirley.