Issue date: 3/9/09 Section: Campus
ANDY GOTTESMAN/THE LANTERN
President Barack Obama personally congratulates each of the 25 graduates of the Columbus Police Training Academy at the Aladdin Shrine Center on Friday. The recruits' jobs were saved from city budget cuts because of a $787 billion stimulus package passed last month.
Six weeks ago, the men and women of the Columbus Division of Police's 114th recruit class learned that they would not be sworn in as officers because of city budget cuts.
Friday, they were sworn in before President Barack Obama and a crowd of hundreds at the Aladdin Shrine Center in a ceremony that Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman called "a graduation for the ages."
Obama and Coleman were joined on stage by a number of notable public officials, including Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
The recruits' reversal of fortune was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed by Congress last month. The $787 billion stimulus package included $1.25 million to pay the salaries of the 25 recruits for one year.
"This is our nation's stimulus package at work, people," Coleman said in his remarks at the ceremony.
The act will put back to work many of the 4.4 million people who lost their jobs in the current recession, but by itself, the plan "won't turn our economy around or solve every problem," Obama said in his remarks.
"This police force still faces budget challenges down the road."
The services of the recruits are vital to Columbus, Obama said.
"This city of Columbus needs the courage and the commitment of this graduating class to keep it safe, to make sure that people have the protection that they need," Obama said. "This economy needs your employment to keep it running."
The sacrifices and commitments made by the recruits are "the very essence of responsibility," Obama said. "That's the spirit we need in this country right now, no matter what our role is or what our profession that we've chosen. It's a spirit that asks us to look beyond our own individual ambitions to the wider obligations we have as the good citizens of a great nation."
ABIGAIL MINER/THE LANTERN
President Obama and one of the pilots of Air Force One salute the crowd assembled at the Port Columbus International Airport.
Officer Joshua Van Dop, orator for the 114th recruit class, echoed Obama's theme of responsibility in his remarks.
"Much has been given to us, and now much is expected of us," Van Dop said.
Obama also announced the availability of $2 billion in Justice Assistance Grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which he said would be allocated to "worthy programs that have been carefully planned and proven to work." Obama cited police departments in Savannah, Ga., Long Beach, Calif., West Haven, Conn., and the state of Iowa as examples of deserving grant recipients.
Dan McKeever can be reached at email@example.com.