The Van Buren Police Department officially welcomed three new officers to the force Monday night when Jacob DeWeese, Kyle Walter and Andy Shepherd were sworn in by City Clerk Phyllis Thomas at the outset of the monthly meeting of the Van Buren City Council.

“It’s important that when we have a police officer retire that we make a big deal out of it and we should,” said Van Buren Police Chief Jamie Hammond, “but I think it’s equally important that we show the same kind of support and encouragement when we hire a new officer and that’s why we’ve started the process, or tradition, of swearing our new officers in by our city clerk when they begin. It’s a good time for us to let them introduce themselves and also to introduce their families and loved ones.”

The trio, which started with the department on Jan. 1, just completed the second of a 13-week training process.

“They told me earlier they’ve loved every minute of it,” Hammond joked.

Before being sworn in each officer stood before the packed meeting room and was given the opportunity to introduce themselves and any family members in attendance.

DeWeese said, “I’m a Christian, I’m a husband, I’m a soon-to-be father in July” before introducing his family members.

Walter said, “I was born and raised here in Van Buren. I love the city of Van Buren and so I decided the best way to give back was to be a part of the Van Buren Police Department.”

He, too, had a large group of family members present, as was the case with Shepherd.

“I’m from Alma – don’t hold that against me,” Shepherd said with a laugh. “I’m glad to be a part of the Van Buren Police Department. It’s a great place … I’m proud to be here.”

Joe Hurst, presiding over his first meeting as mayor, said it was “really neat” to see such a big crowd of family members attending in support of the officers.

“That’s probably the biggest responsibility we have is protecting our people, protecting the health and safety and welfare that you always read in all those ordinances,” he said. “Our police officers and our fire department are so important to us and it was neat to have them here on the first day.”

He added, “I’ve met those new officers. They’re full of energy and it’s really exciting to see it.”