MANATEE -- Cameras and cell phones in hand, family and friends of seven Bradenton police officers gathered in the council chambers at City Hall on Wednesday evening for a swearing-in ceremony.
Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski welcomed those in attendance.
"Today is a happy day," Radzilowski said. "Strangely enough, I remember my own swearing-in some 43 years ago."
Radzilowski reminded the officers that behind God, family should be first in their lives.
"It's a long journey and the family is there for the journey," Radzilowski said. "Your journey does not end now. To keep family important, they have to plan."
Six newly hired officers passed a physical agility test, psychological check, polygraph test and background check. They have also com
pleted the police academy, passed state exams and finished a 16-week field training program.
"It's a very rigorous process," Radzilowski said. "They have to jump through a lot of hoops and we have a lot of candidates to go through. We try to narrow it down to who we feel are the most qualified."
The newest members of the Bradenton police force are Kimberly "Scottie" Camacho, Casey Harnas, Zachary Mikluscak, Emily Parsons and William Weldon Jr.
The latter five will be serving as patrol officers. Camacho, who previously worked at Palmetto Police Department, is the new crime prevention officer.
"It saved us thousands and thousands of dollars in addition to the months or years it would have taken for someone to get the training she has," Radzilowski said of Camacho. "It's a win-win for us."
Camacho's husband is a Bradenton police detective. And Weldon is the son of an active sergeant.
"This is a first for us to have a husband and wife, and father and son together," Radzilowski said. "I tell their families when they apply that I wish them well, but they have to jump through the same hoops. If I'm told they're the most qualified, they get hired like everyone else."
Officer Phillip Waller, who joined the force in May 2003, was promoted to sergeant after evaluations of his written and oral exams, college credits and seniority.
"He seems to be a very competent officer," Radzilowski said. "His hard work and dedication to the citizens of this community has paid off."
The ceremony was overseen by Mayor and Police Commissioner Wayne Poston, who touted the city's decrease in crime for the past seven years.
"I'm proud of our organization," Poston said. "We set high standards and we enforce those expectations."
Elizabeth Johnson, Herald crime reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. Follow her on Twitter @EJohnsonBHcrime.