From cleaning the York City police locker room to 'cleaning up the streets'
Cheers, applause and laughter filled the York City Council chambers as a packed audience welcomed York City's next generation police officers.
"I have a different viewpoint," said one of them, 31-year-old Kiara Michaels, who had until recently served as a custodian at police headquarters. "And I felt like I can help strengthen the community."
As Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow noted on social media, Michaels will go "from cleaning up the locker room ... to cleaning up the streets." In an interview, she said she'd worked for the city's maintenance department for six years, much of that time spent in the police station.
Growing up in the city, Michaels said she had criminals in her family and had been homeless in the past.
"I feel I can help to bridge the gap in the community and the police department. I grew up here; my family is very large," Michaels said. "I know a lot of people, a lot of people know me. So they might feel more comfortable coming to me with things."
In all, the city welcomed six new officers this week.
The new recruits will have a lot of work ahead of them, as the city reels from a series of violent gun crime in recent weeks. That included a fatal shooting within a few blocks of William Penn Senior High School and a number of gun possession arrests involving young people.
Michaels said she enjoyed her time in maintenance working for the city and that it was a good job.
"Everyone was calm and kind, and we were all a support system to each other," Michaels said.
In his remarks Monday afternoon, Muldrow said Michaels wants to serve as an example that if she can change and overcome her obstacles, anyone can.
The officers who were sworn in also included a second generation officer, Brian Aikey, son of police captain Daniel Aikey. "We're going to go ahead and call him Baby Aikey now," Muldrow joked.
Aikey, 27, said he joined the department to make a difference after hearing the stories — both good and bad — that his father told.
Aikey said he wants to help the police department reach out to the community.
"If somebody elderly can't get snow off their car or something, it's as simple as helping them out," he said. "It's not all about arresting people."
One way Aikey has already helped with that was in October of last year, when he used a tractor to give hayrides around the police station.
"For no money, for no accolades, all on your time, when you decided to help me pull off something that did not seem possible," Muldrow said during his remarks. "You showed me everything that I needed to know about you and who you were when you dedicated that time and effort and made that dream come true."
Aikey's father said it was an exciting and proud moment to see his son get sworn in.
"We never really talked a lot about pushing him towards law enforcement or away from law enforcement," said Capt. Daniel Aikey, 49. "It's a pretty cool thing to see."
Laron Woody, 22, said growing up in the city, he'd always wanted to work in York City.
"Having officers interact with me really gave me insight on how the relationship should be between the police and the community, and I just wanted to go to a place where I feel like I can contribute," said Woody, an ROTC member at Shippensburg University who will be graduating with a criminal justice degree in May.
Also joining are:
- Steven Reid, formerly a barber in York City. According to Muldrow, Reid joined to make more of a difference in the community than what he could from behind the barber chair.
- Trey Neiman, a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard. He joined to serve as an example to others.
- Benjamin Mauchamer, formerly of the West Shore Regional Police Department. He joined because York City provides more opportunity to advance his career and better himself.
"Once again, you're seeing an amazing group of folks joining the York City Police department," Mayor Michael Helfrich said after the new recruits were sworn in. "We are working the right direction as far as representing the community, and every one of them has incredible stories and great experiences to come and share with us."
In his remarks, Muldrow said York City police keep adding talent.
"We're at a time in our society, in our nation, where people are telling young people not to cross that line, telling them not to be police officers, telling them that there's nothing good to be offered in this career," he said. "There's nothing that should make you feel any more proud than to have people do and step up the way individuals like this are continuing to step up to be a part of what we're doing here in York."
— Reach Matt Enright via email at email@example.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.