By Amy Morrow
Eyewitness News Anchor/ Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The City of Chattanooga graduates nearly two dozen new police officers. It's the first police academy in two years. Thursday the new officers became part of the force. 

"I'm excited, I've really wanted to do this," says new officer Latoya Tate-Olk.

"It's definitely a pinnacle, we've been through a lot.. In this 18-19 weeks but it's been fun," says new officer Lance Lockhart.

The first graduating class since 2008, 22 new officers will hit the streets of Chattanooga. But not before they're sworn pinned with a badge and of course congratulated.

"I feel like if I can help people it sounds cheesy but it's what I want to do," says Tate-Olk.

And so Tate-Olk, the only female in the group, will follow her dream, a common theme among the cadets.

"I worked 10 years in manufacturing and turned down a raise to come here.. .It's in your blood it chooses you," says Lockhart.

Police Chief Bobby Dodd chose these cadets, hand picked from a pool of applicants he says this is a special group to him. The first class to graduate under his regime, a group he mentored and offered advice.

"Don't go out and embarrass yourself, your badge, or this department," says Chief Dodd, "Maintain stay professional, keep out of the fray, if we lose the cars, fine... If we don't we'll move on.. It's what we do."

" The politics' of it, it's not what I'm into.. I'm here to learn...and do the best I can do," says Tate-Olk.

CPD currently has 406 officers. Chief Dodd says he would like to have 475 but hopes to be close by year's end, 22 this academy and hopefully 23 who'll graduation from the next academy, which starts in a couple of weeks.