HUNTINGTON — Three new Huntington police officer recruits were announced at a hiring ceremony Monday in the municipal courtroom at the Huntington Police Department headquarters on 10th Street, including one from Wayne County.

Joshua Miller, 23, from Ashland; Michael Cremeans, 23, from Pedro, Ohio; and Ryan Harless, 25, from Wayne were sworn into their new positions as probationary police officers on Monday. Harless has prior law enforcement experience with the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.

"I know Huntington has struggled with the drug epidemic, so I wanted to join this police force and do my part in making an impact in this new position," Harless said.

Two of the recruits, Miller and Cremeans, will start their 16-week West Virginia State Police Academy training on Aug. 26.

Once they graduate and return to Huntington, they will undergo a two-week training at the Huntington Police Department before going through a minimum 12 weeks of training in the field.

"Being a police officer is something I always wanted to do," Miller said. "Now that I have two kids, I want to set an example for them and also make a difference in this community."

"This is a very exciting day for me," Cremeans said. "I have heard from several people that this is a great place to work and I am excited to learn from all of the officers here and to be part of the Huntington Police Department family."

The department now has 93 sworn officers, with a budgeted staffing level of 108. Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial said while the force is still down several officers, he isn't going to fill the positions just to fill the budget.

"The world has changed, but our standards at the Huntington Police Department have not, and will not, change," Dial said.

Dial said the probationary period for all three new hires is 12 months long.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams told the new probationary officers to look around the room at all of the Huntington police officers in uniform at the ceremony.

"They set a standard that all of you are expected to follow," Williams said. "Of all the individuals that applied for this position, you're the only three that met the standard that they set.

"To be able to stand next to these men and women in the Huntington Police Department is the greatest compliment," he said.

Williams said the new officers have two responsibilities they will be learning the next 12 months.

"Your responsibility is to protect the citizens of our city and the second responsibility is to go home at the end of your shift safely," he said. "Our responsibility is to assure we give you everything that is necessary to keep you safe. They are going to teach you how to police safely, police completely and do it ethically and within the law."

Dial said one of the biggest challenges the HPD faces today is finding men and women with the right skill set and ethics to do the job.

"The next HPD test date will be later this month," Dial said.

The starting base salary at HPD is $37,643, including a uniform allowance, with opportunity for overtime pay.

Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 40 with a high school diploma or GED. Applicants must be able to do 28 sit-ups in one minute, 18 push-ups in one minute and complete a 1 1/2-mile run in 14:36 to be eligible, pass a written exam, a physical exam and an extensive background check, along with other interviews conducted by the department.

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