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There are a lot of reasons not to become a police officer. These Cincinnati Police cadets want to anyway

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Ann Thompson
Three times a week, the cadets undergo a rigorous physical fitness routine led by Officer Steve Peponis. On a recent Friday, he quoted Albert Einstein. "Adversity introduces a man to himself."

Training for the 111th class at the Cincinnati Police Academy is underway. Graduation is in February.

Training is underway for a new class of Cincinnati Police cadets. What motivates them to take a job that’s dangerous and under increased public scrutiny?

Only after an intense workout - which included running and lifting 45 lb. plates over head - did a handful of recruits have time to talk to WVXU.

With sweat dripping down his face, Cincinnati native John Brown says he’s emotionally and mentally equipped for a career on the police force. When family and friends ask him why he is doing it, he says, “Why not?”

As society evolves, police evolve

With some demanding change in the structure of police departments nationwide, the UC grad and former Marine says, “We want to put our best foot forward to have the department in a good light and also continually to have the driving force of evolving. As our society evolves, the department is evolving.”

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(from left) Cadets John Brown, Elaine Hurd, Austin Watson, and Dejanay Drummonds stop their rigorous training regimen to talk to WVXU.

“There’s greater things out there than myself,” says Dejanay Drummonds, a Cleveland native and UC grad.

According to Drummonds, “We’re not only there when it’s the worst day of your life but we’re there when it’s the best times in your life, when your car’s broken down on the side of the road and we’re helping change tires. We’re there when you might be having a baby and you need to get to the hospital faster.”

Drummonds wants to be a role model to kids and looks forward to serving the community.

For some, it's in the genes

For Austin Watson, an Elder High School and UC grad, joining the force was something he dreamed about since being a kid. His grandpa was a police officer in North College Hill and his uncle served in Delhi Township.

“I love the city and I want to help everyone out in the community,” he says.

Elaine Hurd grew up in Cincinnati and then went abroad, first to Norway and then to South Korea. While in Asia, she volunteered with underserved kids. That’s what drew her into public service.

“The training here is renowned worldwide,” she says. “So I wanted to make sure that when I was in those tense situations where everyone is watching - the media, our body cameras, the public with their cell phones - I want to make sure that I’m armed with the best training and the best knowledge so that I can approach that situation with confidence that everyone’s going to walk away safely.”

The Cincinnati Police recruits graduate in February.

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Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology