Philadelphia Police Dept. sees 72 new officers graduate amid officer shortage, gun violence crisis

With all the violence plaguing the city, Philadelphia police officers will be working extended shifts this week. It comes as a new recruitment class just graduated.

Pride erupted through the crowd in Temple University’s Performing Arts Center Friday morning, as the Philadelphia Police Department officially welcomed 72 new officers, the largest class of academy graduates in recent years.

Officer Anthony Fernandez is following in his mother’s footsteps. She retired as a Sergeant six years ago.


"I’m excited. I’m ready to get out there," he says.

The new class comes during what Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw repeatedly called a staffing crisis in recent months, amid a gun violence crisis. The department is grappling with a shortage of hundreds of officers, with hundreds of others slated to retire over the next few years.

"These are a drop in the bucket, yes, but what it does is messages to the community, the surrounding communities, that this is still a noble profession," Outlaw says.

This weekend, patrol officers will have their shifts extended by four hours and Commissioner Outlaw says it may not be the only time.

"This is something that we’re doing because we’re in crisis. Gun violence is a crisis and we have to do something urgent and right now to make sure that we address it," she said.

"It’s extraordinary circumstances, we understand that, but we don’t want to make a habit of that," says John McNesby, President of FOP Lodge 5, the police department’s police union.

His daughter, Caitlyn, among Friday’s academy graduates.

"I know the city needs officers more than ever right now, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there," she says.

Commissioner Outlaw says their recruitment and marketing has been clear, intentional and upfront.

McNesby feels it is a work in progress. "You need to continually bring people in and take care of them. Right now, we need to figure out better ways."

The 72 officers will officially hit the street Monday. By the end of the year, the department expects another class of 42 officers to graduate.

Anyone interested in jobs with the Philadelphia Police Department can get more information on their website, here.