The swearing-in ceremony lasted only a minute or two, but the significance of the moment lingered for Cory Waiters.
The 27-year-old was among six others sworn in as new officers with the Bradenton Police Department. Standing inside Bradenton's City Council Chambers just after 4 p.m. Wednesday, Mayor Wayne Poston presided over the ceremony involving Waiters, Ronald Peterson, Ryan Biesterfeld, Dalia Santana, Robert Gwodz, Nico Lee and Norma Cardozo.
After being sworn in, Waiters expressed excitement at following in his father's footsteps. Manatee County Sheriff's Office Capt. Lorenzo Waiters attended the ceremony along with another son, Lorenzo Waiters, a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. They came in uniform -- Waiters' father in MCSO's familiar dark green, his brother in crisp white.
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Waiters recalled the times his father would take him for a ride and tell stories of his experiences on the job.
"A lot of people know him in the community and I kind of just want to embody that," he said.
Standing with microphone in hand in front of the seated officers and their family members, Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski addressed the officers directly. Behind him were Poston and Bradenton Police Capts. William Fowler and Tim Christensen.
"There's nothing magical about police work. Most of it is common sense, but I do want to offer this to you -- when you encounter people out on the
street, treat them the way you would like your family member treated if they encountered a police officer," Radzilowksi said.
Radzilowski described police officers as "peacekeepers" with a purpose to enforce the law.
"This is a dangerous job, if you selected it," he said, adding 78 police officers have been killed in the United States this year.
The police chief stressed to the new officers their actions reflect on the Bradenton Police Department, the city, mayor and himself.
"If somebody does something wrong, we all get painted with that broad brush of something that happened that was negative," he said.
Radzilowski also took a jab at the media.
"By far many, many good things happen daily. I get telephone calls, emails, letters all the time about the fine work the men and women of the Bradenton Police Department do, but that don't make the newspapers. That don't make the TV," he said, saying media outlets gear more toward negative news.
Poston, who also serves as police commissioner, pushed a message of public safety for the new officers.
"We have selected you. We will equip you. We will train you and we will help you," Poston said.
Santana hung around with her family after the ceremony. The 23-year-old said she felt nervous.
"But I'm really proud of myself," the Bradenton resident said. "I started off with the Bradenton Police Explorers at 14."
Santana said she's looking forward to the adrenaline associated with the job, and doing something new every day to help the community.
Santana's mother, Angelina Arellano, appeared emotional as she spoke about her daughter's ceremony.
"I feel very proud of what she's achieved, of the efforts she's made," the 48-year-old said in Spanish. "It hasn't been easy but she persisted and persisted and today she's achieving these first steps."
Nearby, Waiters' father, who began working for the MCSO 35 years ago, looked proud.
"It's very exciting when, not just one of your children start a career in law enforcement, but when you have two follow in your footsteps. What's crazy about it is that they never showed any interest," the 55-year-old said, adding his eldest served in the U.S. Air Force and his younger son went to college. "And then they come back and all of a sudden they want a career in law enforcement."
Waiters said this was perfect timing. He plans on retiring Sept. 30, 2015.
"As a parent, even if I wasn't law enforcement, you're afraid that something could happen to your kids in this profession," he said.
Even if he wasn't retiring in a year, Waiters said he would still worry about his sons in law enforcement.
"It's just something that as a parent you just have to learn to deal with," he said, "because once they hit 18, they control their own destiny."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.