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      New Police Officers Earn Badges

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      Forty-five men and women cross the thin blue line, earning their badges as law enforcement officers.

      These men and women will join police departments and sheriff's offices across the state, in communities like Hastings, Kearney, and Lexington.

      For many, Friday's graduation is the culmination of years of work.

      Bret Renz said, "It's about a year-long process from start to finish. The amount of effort you put in, between the department, time here, FTO, it's a very long process."

      Unlike college graduation, where students have to look for a job after completing their studies, the reverse is true here. Officers generally get hired by a department first and then go to the academy for a four-month program.

      Officer Renz was a manager at a Grand Island store when he changed careers, to join his hometown department.

      His wife pinned on his badge, as the GIPD welcomed four new officers.

      The city's police chief says family support is an anchor every officer needs.

      Chief Steve Lamken said, "It's hard, they've gone through 16 weeks in the academy, now they go 14 weeks bouncing shifts with field training officers, so it's a time of change for the family, stress for the family too."

      This was a large class for the academy, with the largest crowd that the staff can remember in attendance for the graduation.

      Training doesn't end here. The new officers will now be paired up with veterans, for months of on the job training.

      Chief Lamken said it easily takes a year before a new officer will feel comfortable on the job. There's a lot to learn, but the training here gives them the basics to get started.

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