Recruits set sights on bright dream a police badge

April 22, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

Twenty-six-year-old George Greene Jr. of Oakland Mills once studied to become a stockbroker at Wilberforce University in Ohio because he wanted "to make all the money he could." But on Monday, he began working toward something closer to his heart: a gold county police badge.

"It's a lifelong dream," he said Tuesday during a lunch break outside the police training building in Hickory Ridge.

Mr. Greene is among 40 recruits in this year's police academy class, which began Monday and is the largest class in the department's history.

When they graduate in December, the recruits will bring the department up to full strength -- about 300 officers, said Sgt. Lee E. Goldman, the recruits' supervisor. The county's thin finances have delayed a police academy class for several years. "It's sorely needed," the sergeant said.

The recruits -- 29 white males, five black males, three Hispanic males and three white females -- will be paid $24,052. Many have police or military experience and are seeking a career change or career advancement, a personnel officer said. Their ages range from 21 to 38.

The recruits -- selected from a pool of 1,400 applicants -- will undergo 20 weeks of classroom training and 14 weeks of field training riding with veteran officers.

This week, the trainees completed paperwork, underwent orientation, listened to the chief and were fitted for uniforms they'll probably receive in about two weeks. They won't receive weapons until they qualify on the range halfway through the academy, Mr. Goldman said.

"The last thing they get is their badge," he said.

Then they'll hit the streets.

Wearing the badge is important to Mr. Greene.

"It's just something I've always wanted to do since I was young," he said. He gave up on his plans to become a stockbroker. "There's more to life than making money."

Before becoming a recruit he worked as a cost account trainee for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and helped his parents run their landscaping and cleaning business in Oakland Mills.

Fellow recruit Jerry Schlossnagle, 21, said he's a former landscaper who is studying criminal justice at Catonsville Community College, and is following in his father's footsteps protecting Howard's citizens. The Carroll County resident's father is a sergeant in the department.

Mr. Schlossnagle said he wants to help the community and improve the image of police.

"Police are [some] of the most misunderstood people around," he said. "All cops aren't bullies."

The aspiring officer said when he hits the streets he won't fear for his safety.

"It comes down to common sense and training," he said.

And he said he'll always remember what his father told him: "Just do the right thing."

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