The Philadelphia Police Academy recently graduated 39 new officers. While most of the new recruits were younger men and women, the class also included several middle-aged individuals who were excited to embark on their new careers, including a former hairdresser, a retired schoolteacher and a longtime retail worker who had dreams of working as a police officer.
The Philadelphia Police Department does not have an age cap for its police officer candidates. Although some of the older recruits noted that most of their instructors were significantly younger than they are, age has not been a barrier for those who are physically fit and capable of meeting the requirements.
William Sheehan, a 55-year-old recruit, initially felt that he was too old for the job.
However, after discussing his worries with a recruitment officer, he was assured that his physical fitness was the primary factor in determining his eligibility.
“I said, ‘I’m too old,’ and he said, ‘You look like you are in decent shape, can you run?’ I said, ‘I can run a mile or two, yeah, I can run.’ And he said, ‘I don’t think it will be an issue,’” Sheehan told Fox 29 News.
Others were motivated to join the police department for the salary, the benefits and the opportunity to contribute to the community.
“I was actually praying for this job since 2014,” 47-year-old Rosmeyra Maldonado said. “Not only because of the money — the money is good, the pension and all — but also to help people and to make a difference, to change the environment, the way that people think about police.”
As law enforcement agencies across the country are facing staffing shortages and struggling to recruit willing candidates, the older recruits believe their age is an advantage rather than a barrier.
“I am excited to learn what I’m about to serve, I’m excited to be in the community, I’m excited to say here comes change, I can be that change,” 44-year-old Claudine Evans said.