INDIANAPOLIS — From the exercises to the emphasis on training, the endurance required to earn wearing an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department badge takes weeks of agility, academics, and attention to detail.
The 20th IMPD recruit class is making history for having the largest number of officer candidates who can speak multiple languages beyond English, including Bosnian, Russian, and Portuguese.
John Gomez is seeking to become the first member of law enforcement in his family with Mexican roots.
"Policing has changed — we need more people to step out and really build community; to relate with the people," said Gomez.
Gomez went on to say, "They see a Spanish speaking officer, and they tend to get more comfortable."
I had a brief conversation with him in Spanish just to test his skills.
I asked, "Para usted, usted quiere usar su lengua todos los dias?/For you, do you want to use your language skills every day."
Gomez responded in Spanish: "Si algun dia puedo ayudar a la gente para mi seria un placer./If one day I can help people, it will be my pleasure."
Beyond the Spanish, recruit officers can speak Russian or Bosnian like Zorana Lincner. Lincner was born in Bosnia and moved to Fort Wayne in 1996. While living in Allen County, a school resource officer became a mentor and encouraged her to pursue a law enforcement career.
In Bosnian, she said, "I am here to help, and it's okay to approach us. We want to help. We want to be there for your community."
Another recruit speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The latter is the language spoken by Indy 500 drivers Tony Kaanan and Helio Castroneves.
Recruit officer Caleb Medeiros graduated in Indianapolis from Lawrence Central High School.
In Portuguese, he said, "We are here to help people that need help, and we are regular people like everyone else doing a job.
Some of the recruits will be the first members of law enforcement in their families; others are following in a parent's footsteps.
Valeriy Novotney was born in Ukraine and now calls Indianapolis home. His father was a police officer.
"He was an officer. He had a uniform back in the Ukraine that I used to wear it when he wasn't home. He loved helping people," said Novotney.
In the city they call home, where anything can happen, the recruits are prepared to serve, protect, and speak to people on a global scale.
"I want to be one of those officers where I show up, and people want to talk to me," said Lincner.
There are currently 54 people that make up the 20th IMPD recruit class at the academy.