SAN ANTONIO – It was a police cadet graduation unlike any other when the class of 2014-A was sworn in to serve and protect San Antonio, in part because of the class speaker Steven Albart's magnificent opera rendition of an Irish Prayer.
He, like many of the cadets, represent a unique addition to the force of 22 officers and one arson investigator.
Many felt it was also fitting to outgoing Police Chief William McManus, who leaves his post in January to join CPS Energy.
The chief was moved by the song and the class, noting this may well be the last class he ever swears in.
"I've been through the bittersweet part of it a little earlier. I'm past the bittersweet part. It's all sweet now," he said.
The crowd of onlookers were made up of mostly friends and family of the new officers who cheered and clapped for the grads. There was also a bit of concern displayed by loved ones, who admit they are nervous about that first shift in the overnight hours on the street.
Casey Center is engaged to a cadet and admits she worries about him.
"Yes, yes. Of course it does. His brother is a police officer, so we've been doing it for three years now, so I just take it day by day," she said.
Steve Albert said it's not lost on him either. The father of a new baby girl says he feels the academy did a good job getting them prepared for life as a cop, especially in light of the scrutiny now being placed on officers after the widely covered officer-involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.
"There are some nerves there getting ready to go out there, but with the training at the academy, they've prepped us the way we need to be," said Albert.
McManus agrees that officers graduating today have to be ready and equipped to handle the public in a different sort of approach than perhaps was universally taught in years past.
"It's all about showing dignity and respect to the people you encounter on the street. It's all about treating people like you would want your parents treated if they were stopped by police," he said.
The new officers will be unofficially called "rookies" by their fellow officers in the field, but also have earned the right to be called officer.