Two young veterans were sworn in as Merced police officers on Friday.
Both new officers, Arturo Dehoyos and Omar Hernandez, served in the Marines. Hernandez also served in the Army and was discharged in April, and Dehoyos served three tours in Iraq.
The addition of the two officers brings the Police Department’s ranks up to 87, city officials said. The department currently has seven openings and still is about 20 officers short of the department’s peak before the recession hit, Chief Norm Andrade said.
“It’s a tough profession to go into,” Andrade said. “I admire any young person who chooses to go into it.”
Dehoyos and Hernandez started classroom training with Merced Police Department in September and were sworn in during a ceremony Friday afternoon at Merced Civic Center.
Dehoyos, 32, grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and moved to California when he was 18 and enlisted in the Marines. He attended the police academy in Fresno last year and managed to get through it even though his mother died while he was in the program.
“Since I was a kid, I wanted to do this,” he said. “I’m grateful to be here. It’s something she always wanted me to achieve.”
Hernandez, 30, originally from Reedley, served four years in the Marines and two years in the Army. He worked a short stint with the Selma Police Department and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
“It’s an honor and privilege to work for the Merced Police Department,” he said. “I’m a man of faith, and I plan to bring that to the city and department.”
Dehoyos and Hernandez will work with field training officers over the next few months.
Starting pay for a Merced police officer is $59,029.
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477