A graduation ceremony for 10 Durham Police Department cadets from the Basic Law Enforcement Training Class #37 was held July 23 at Duke Memorial United Methodist Church.

Graduates had 26 weeks and 993 hours of training, according to a department press release. On the job they will have access to an array of technology and tools, from tasers, batons, pepper spray and guns with laser sights to new cruisers, radar, handcuffs, computer databases and dogs, as well as the wisdom of veteran officers.

But to Chief Jose Lopez, the most priceless tool is compassion for the people the rookie officers are sworn to serve. He joked that if compassion could be purchased, he would make sure there was always room for it in the budget.

“Make sure you keep that compassion, and let it grow for those that you deal with,” Lopez said.

The other tool that money can’t buy is street experience. Training Division Sgt. Nick Schneider, a 12-year veteran, feels like a father to his recruits. He looks back over his career and wishes he had the wisdom he has now when he was a rookie.

“We are charged with a great commission to serve the community and keep people safe. We understand that because we make such important decisions the stakes are higher. We don’t take that lightly,” Schneider said.

“There is no substitute for experience. I wish I could give these young officers those years of experience I have.”