NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— It is no secret that the NOPD is strapped for police officers and struggling with a staff shortage, but today the NOPD had reason to celebrate because they graduated 18 new police officers.

Today at the SUNO Arts and Humanities Center, the 18 new police officers took their oaths and received their diplomas from the NOPD Police Academy.

Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said, “This is more than a job, but a responsibility to pursue what is right and change what is wrong.”

One of the new police officers is Maurice Bailey who says he hopes he can be an officer that shows his humanity.

“I hope I can be an officer that not only can take care of business, handle what I need to handle, but stop and shoot hoops with kids, throw a football around too. I grew up playing sports and I never had an officer do that to me,” Bailey said.

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Because of the NOPD’s staff shortage, Superintendent Shaun Ferguson announced recently that he plans to hire civilians to man the department’s phones and also do some other police work like collecting evidence.

The NOPD currently has 12 recruits that will be in the next graduating class.