Humility is a trait that Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer wants to see in the first recruit class under his watch. 

“I like humility,” Schmaderer said Monday in welcoming 40 recruits at the Public Safety Training Center in northwest Omaha. “You already have the power when you put on the uniform. I want you to be unassuming and humble. Can you do that for me?”

The recruits’ answer in unison was a resounding, “Yes, sir!” 

The chief and Mayor Jean Stothert addressed the recruits for the first time Monday. If all of them graduate after 20 weeks of intense training — and assuming no current officers retire — the department will have 803 sworn officers on Aug. 28.

Stothert told the class that public safety is her No. 1 priority. She expects each officer in the department to be involved in prevention, intervention and prosecution of crime.

“It’s an honor to be selected for this police academy,” the mayor said. “You will have the opportunity to change lives and save lives.”

Schmaderer said he asked his command staff to put together a class “with a solid background” out of 2,000 applicants.

He also asked that the recruits come into the training already having had “some element of success” in their lives before they put on a police uniform — whether it be in sports, in the military or culturally. 

“This is my first opportunity to hire for the department,” he said. “This class is my stamp, right here.”
Schmaderer’s eyes searched up and down the ranks of the recruits, who sat stiffly at their desks. He pointed to several of the 35 men and five women, asking them to tell him something about themselves.

Terrance Smith stood and said he is a lifelong Omahan with six years of service in the Air Force National Guard. He is a sports and fitness enthusiast pursuing a degree in exercise science.

Recruit Justyn Riley said he spent four years in the Marine Corps, likes target shooting and participating in mud runs. He said he also enjoys exercise, which brought a few wry smiles to the faces of some of the command staff lining the wall around the classroom.

It seems the recruits will be getting their fill of exercise during the training. 

The chief already knew a little bit about recruit Tyler Friend, who said he is on track to graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May. Friend, if he graduates from the police academy, will be a third-generation Omaha officer.

“I know your uncles pretty well,” Schmaderer said. “That doesn’t mean anything to me. Not a ... thing, until you graduate.”

By Kevin Cole / World-Herald staff writer