WATERBURY- After six months of physical and mental training, 27 police cadets are now police officers.
The police recruits graduated Tuesday night during a ceremony at the Palace Theater. Twelve became Waterbury Police Officers, with the other 15 spread among Wallingford, Naugatuck, Stratford, Trumbull, Avon and Plymouth.
Like the 26 cadets in his class, Matthew Brown began Tuesday night as a police recruit and left the evening as a sworn-in officer.
"I had a true passion for this and it's what I've always wanted to do," said Brown after the graduation.
Brown didn't have to look far for inspiration because his father, Lt. Richard Brown, is also part of the Waterbury Police Department. Lt. Brown's father, Matthew's grandfather, was also a police officer for decades before he passed away.
"I've been in this process for three years, so it's just a long process. My family, I know everybody's proud. I know my grandfather's proud, but he can't be here right now," said Matthew Brown.
But his father was on hand to watch his son follow his lead and join the very same department. "As a father it gets you, I'm happy he wants to follow in my footsteps and my father's footsteps--that's what I did. He's a good man, he's got a good heart, good head on his shoulders and I think he'll do a tremendous job," said Lt. Brown.
Matthew Brown wasn't alone Tuesday night; the diverse group of graduates of the class of 2014-01 endured six months of training together.
"These are difficult times to be a police officer. Things are happening everyday that most of us can't seem to make sense out of," said Mayor O'Leary, a former police officer.
After speeaches from the Mayor and Waterbury Police Chief Vernon Riddick, the recruits had their badges pinned on by family members and were then officially sworn into duty.
For the Brown family, it was a moment of pride for not only Matthew, but for his father, grandmother and grandfather, who was there in spirit.
"I just wish my husband was here. He'd be so proud," said Rosemary Brown, Matthew's grandmother.
"He's here mom, I can feel him," said Lt. Brown, while his son smiled.