CAñON CITY, Colo. - Eight of the 37 officers on the Cañon City police force will be new after a round of hiring at the end of the summer.
Earlier this week, the department ended a six-month statewide search by swearing in five officers--three men and two women. Three more hires are expected soon, said Police Chief Paul Schultz.
"We think they're great," he said. "They're motivated and educated. We think they have good communications skills. They're going to be able to work with people. They understand our philosophy of community policing."
Schultz said the new officers made it through an extensive testing process and were among 45 candidates to apply.
The three women have military or law enforcement backgrounds. The youngest is Stephanie Cabassa, 23, of Colorado Springs. Angela Slay, 29, also lives in the Springs. Athena Garcia, 29, is from Pueblo and spent four years with the Fremont County Sheriff's Office.
"I had intentions of being a state trooper," said Slay. "The fact that I'm female, I hope will help put a good face on the department, and help me be a positive female role model here in the community."
Greg Phillips, 29, lives in Cañon City.
"I was working at one of the banks in town," he said. "I've always wanted to be a police officer. I kind of took a shot that Cañon City might be getting ready to hire in the next year. I think I offer hard work, determination and leadership by example. I listen, too. I'm not going to learn anything if I don't listen."
Matthew Sanchez, 24, of Pueblo said he was attending college and working odd jobs when he applied.
"They're really involved with youth, and that really spoke a lot to me, so I wanted to be a part of it," he said.
last January, Schultz began sending recruiters to police academies across southern Colorado. They touted Cañon City as a great place to live and work. The new officers said the recruiters were a big influence on them.
"I love the small-town feel," said Cabassa, who grew up in a heavier-populated area of south Florida.
The new officers graduated from a 16-week academy class, and will continue to train in their first 22 weeks in the job before they're ready to work on their own, Schultz said.