COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Colorado Springs Police Department got a little bit bigger this week as it celebrated the new set of recruits graduating from the academy.
On Tuesday, 30 recruits graduated from the police academy and became police officers. It was a smaller class size than what Lt. Korey Hutchison, the director of the academy, usually sees.
"Our last class was 68 and that was the largest that we ever started," Hutchison says. "Our typical size is anywhere from 35 to 45."
COVID-19 changed the way these recruits were trained, but that wasn't the only change these future officers witnessed.
Violent riots against police brutality sparked across the country including in Colorado Springs. It led to a new, sweeping statewide police reform bill that changed how law enforcement operates. It also led to the creation of a police oversight commission in the Springs.
While no recruits dropped out because of the change, Hutchison says it did affect them. "We had several conversations with them throughout the academy while some of the protests were going on," Hutchison says, "And we talked to them about how important it was to have quality people on the police force."
However, Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell said the social outcries already affected his department's recruiting.
"We are already hearing from people that we originally started talking to about going into law enforcement saying, 'I don't want to do this,'" Mikesell said, adding that it's not only happening with recruits. "Then you are also seeing large groups of those that were ready for retirement dropping their papers saying hey I'm not going to continue with dealing with this."
However, these new officers want to show residents there are those who genuinely care about their communities.
"I mean everybody has their First Amendment rights and they can feel and believe how they choose," William Parsons, one of the graduates, said. "We hope that we can change their opinion of police."
Graduate Justin Cropper agreed. "The reason why I wanted to join was just to show people, it's not always going to be that way," Cropper says. "We care about the community the police officers, we care and we want to do right by you."
These officers told us they still have a few weeks of training left, but will start their patrols by the end of September.