recruitclass1-2018

Police Chief Todd Schmaderer speaks to recruits in October 2018. Mayor Jean Stothert is at right. Because of retirements, the police will need another class to bring the number of officers to the authorized strength of 902.

The eighth Omaha police recruit class under Chief Todd Schmaderer began training Monday.

The department will train 36 people in the class — 30 men and six women. If they make it through 23 weeks of classes, they will become sworn police officers.

Department officials made sure the class was as big as possible in an effort to reach the authorized strength of 902 officers. When an officer announced a retirement Friday, officials were able to add another recruit to the class at the last minute.

“We’re always trying to play that game, trying to hit our number of authorized strength,” said Lt. Greg Barrios of the department’s backgrounds investigations and recruiting unit.

The current number of sworn officers in the department is 866, Barrios said. Adding 36 to that brings the number to 902, but the actual number of sworn officers won’t break 900 because of retirements early in 2020 and the timing of the recruit class graduation. Another recruit class will need to be added to push the number of sworn officers past 900.

Barrios said the department plans to open an application period in the spring that will fill one or two more recruit classes.

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Recruits from this class were pulled from an eligibility list from testing and applications in 2017, Barrios said. Officials are happy with the results.

“A lot of agencies are struggling to fill their seats,” Barrios said. “We’re fortunate because of the pay and the benefits and the opportunities at our police department that we’re able to get a good number of quality police candidates.”

The racial background of the class: 22 white, 10 black, three Hispanic and one Asian. Three people have master’s degrees, and several have military experience. One person also speaks Spanish fluently.

Previously, the department has had recruit classes made up of law enforcement officers from other Nebraska agencies, but this class is treated as a rookie class even though two people have previous law enforcement experience.

One of those recruits is Jason Cvitanov, a former Bellevue police officer who was involved in a complaint against the city related to an investigation of the Bellevue police officers union. The complaint was dropped recently because Cvitanov and the city reached an agreement.

Mayor Jean Stothert had said she wanted the department to reach 900 sworn officers by 2019, but that wasn’t feasible because of attrition and retirements.

In his seven years as chief, Schmaderer has added 289 officers to the force — it will be 325 if all 36 people in the current class graduate. Schmaderer has increased staffing to account for the department’s fifth precinct, called the west precinct, which opened in September.

For information about applying to become an Omaha police officer, go to joinOPD.com.

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Alia Conley covers breaking news, crime, crime trends, the Omaha Police Department and initial court hearings. Follow her on Twitter @aliavalentine. Phone: 402-444-1068.

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