EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso Police Department has another 38 officers on the streets, including one who is a fourth-generation Sun City police officer.
When 24-year-old Dominic Morales decided he wanted to become an El Paso Police officer he had to look no further than his stepfather, EPPD officer Slade Davis, for advice. But for Morales, the love of law enforcement stretches all the way back to his great grandfather.
First they were sworn in and they they received their diplomas. With his stepfather looking on, Morales became the fourth generation in his family on the force.
"It's the greatest achievement of my life," Morales said.
In addition to his stepfather, Morales' great grandfather, Ignacio Estorga, was a captain in the El Paso Police Department during the 1970's and his grandfather, Tony Frescas, was a patrol officer during the 1980's.
"It's an honor carrying on the family tradition, especially stretching from captain all the way down to patrolman," Morales said. "This is my journey to start."
Davis, an officer since the 1990's, said "words can't describe how proud I am.(Dominic) has been wanting to follow this route since he was a young boy. When he was two years old, he was practicing some of the moves I was making when I was in the academy back in 1992."
Davis said the academy is a lot different two decades later.
"My academy was four months and his is seven months," he said. "There's been more procedural changes, more training, courtroom laws, driving, shooting, hands on. In four months, we learned a lot. But in seven months, they learned a lot more."
Davis said the biggest difference is the technology now available.
"There's been a lot more equipment that's been added," he said. "My utility belt has a lot less than what his has now. So there's a lot more training."
Academy graduate Carlos Mendez is also walking in his father's footsteps. His dad, Ruben "Tremendous" Mendez, a 27-year veteran, went through the academy in 1980.
"Technology-wise, we had radios that sometimes worked, sometimes did not work," Ruben Mendez said. "We only had back then two channels, now they must have 6 or 7 channels and computers in their cars. When I left, they were barely being installed."
Among the 38 graduates of the police academy were eight women. The total number of officers on the force is now 1,073.
Until 2008, officers had to spend 20 years on the force and work until the age of 45 to receive their full pension. That has increased, however, to 25 years on the force and a retirement age of 50, meaning it will take Morales and Mendez until the year 2039 to get to that point.