The Apopka Police Department welcomed three new officers to its force at a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall on Friday. The three new officers bring the APD roster up to 105 employees with three more positions to fill before the end of the fiscal year.
"We are a family," said APD Chief Michael McKinley to the new officers and their friends and family in attendance. "And now you are a part of that family. There are going to be some rough times, but we will always be there to support you."
"The Apopka Police Department is one of the finest, most professional, well-trained agencies in all of Central Florida," said Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer before swearing-in the new officers. "They are knowledgeable of our community, which allows them to be effective for our residents. The citizens of Apopka love our public safety professionals."
Officer Christopher Clutter, 31, has a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida and worked for the Seminole County and Baker County Sheriff's Offices as a narcotics detective.
"My wife has family in the area," he said. "Being a member of the APD is a great opportunity and it's great to be near her family."
Clutter also expects to move to the Apopka area in the near future.
Officer Oscar Mayorga, 20, graduated from Lake Brantley High School and Seminole State College in 2016.
"I've always heard great things about this agency," he said. "Even when I picked up the application, I felt welcomed. They introduced me to Lieutenant (Steve) Brick and treated me like I was part of a family."
Montoya lives in Altamonte Springs.
Officer Gregory Smith, 31, graduated from Seminole State College. "I like Apopka," I like the friendliness of the people here and I know and have interacted with a lot of the APD officers. I look forward to serving the community."
"I like Apopka," he said. "I like the friendliness of the people here and I know and have interacted with a lot of the APD officers. I look forward to serving the community."
Smith lives in Deltona.
Clutter was the fifth and final officer hired through a $625,000 federal Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) Hiring Program grant. The APD was budgeted for a total of five officers through the grant.
McKinley pointed out the benefits his agency and the residents receive from a larger police force.
"The growth the APD has experienced has expanded the criminal investigations and allowed us to clear more cases," he said. "But the most important element is patrol squads. Our response times in the community are better, and we are catching in-progress crimes."