JEFFERSON PARISH, La. (WGNO) — The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) is making strides to make the parish safer. On Thursday evening, the latest deputy recruiting class graduated at the Alario Center.

22-year-old Noah Blackwell was one of them. Graduating from recruiting class was a moment he had dreamed of his entire life.

“I always wanted to be a deputy and I figured this would be the best choice for myself,” said Deputy Blackwell.

He is one of 24 new JPSO deputies who will begin patrolling the streets on Sunday.

“I’ve heard a lot about JPSO,” said the deputy. “All the good work they do, we do. Overall it’s just a great organization to be a part of.”

But, getting to that point wasn’t easy. Recruits endured about five months of training.

“All of our deputies are recruits have been through 80 hours of crisis intervention training, whether it’s pursuit driving whether it’s firearms training, legal aspects,” said JPSO Sheriff Joseph Lopinto.

He says with the newest additions, his operations division is about 95% filled. He expects it to be fully staffed by July.

“A big part of it was thanks to the public,” said the sheriff. “Over this last year we were able to pass a very significant millage to be able to put pay raises into effect. It gives us the ability where our starting deputies are at $45,000 a year plus another $6,000 of state pay so they’re starting at $51,000.”

Sheriff Lopinto claims crime is on track to be about the same as it was last year, with 37 murders this year. He also says there was a slight uptick in armed robberies and burglaries.

The sheriff is hopeful with more manpower that number will decrease in the coming months.

In addition to 24 JPSO deputies graduating, one Department of Public Safety Officer also graduated.

If you’re interested in applying to become a JPSO deputy you can click HERE.