When Jimmy Fields Jr. was growing up, his heroes were police officers and teachers.
His dream was to be a police officer in his hometown.
But the terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred while he was a recruit in the Wichita police academy class, and his National Guard unit was called to active duty.
Instead of patrolling the streets of Wichita, Fields was serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He came home with two Purple Hearts and a new appreciation for democracy and the rule of law.
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“When you see what it’s like when they don’t have it ,” Fields said.
His nephew was so inspired by Fields’ interest in law enforcement that he became a Wichita police officer, and Fields would go on ride-alongs with him when he was home on leave.
Those ride-alongs simply reminded Fields why he wanted to be a police officer. It’s a chance to make a difference, he said, a chance to help people when they’re in need.
On Friday morning, Fields, now 38, was one of 14 recruits sworn in as commissioned police officers.
“It’s a special calling,” he said, standing in the atrium of Central Community Church in west Wichita after the ceremony.
It’s a special class, police officials said.
“It’s a great group, a great group,” Deputy Chief Nelson Mosley said.
Guest instructors commented about the quality of the class, Mosley said, and residents offered praise after interacting with recruits during community service projects. The class includes 12 men and two women.
“Every one of us brought something different” to the class, said Officer David Stull, who was elected president of the class.
That is one of the group’s strengths, he said. Over the course of 23 weeks of training, Stull said, they went from “14 strangers to 14 trusted friends.”
On Friday, they listened to words of encouragement from their police chief and their mayor.
“Justice,” Chief Norman Williams said, “is truth in action.”
Mayor Carl Brewer thanked the recruits for choosing a profession “not everybody is suited for.”
He apologized to their families and loved ones in advance for the long hours and missed ballgames and holiday dinners that come with being a police officer.
“You’ll have some good times, and you’ll have some difficult times,” Brewer told the class. “But we as a city, we trust you.”
The recruits will now undergo an additional 12 weeks of field training, riding with experienced officers as they begin to apply what they’ve learned.