Blake Holt and Derreck Burr, Braintree's newest police officers, both graduated from the MBTA Transit Police Academy earlier this month and hit the streets for field training after a swearing-in ceremony at Town Hall Friday.
Their addition brings the department to 70 sworn officers and closer to the budgeted force of 75. The Braintree residents are military veterans who grew up in southern Massachusetts and were selected out of a final group of about a dozen candidates.
"We went through an extensive process," Chief Russell Jenkins said. "It's a great accomplishment for these two individuals."
Mayor Joseph Sullivan said that bringing on Burr and Holt is a sign of Jenkins' committment to "taking the department to another level," adding that he would like to see the force hit 80 officers within the next two years.
"We had a number of applicants who were qualified, but these two shone through," Sullivan said.
Burr and Holt will complete their field training by February.
Another three officers are scheduled to begin training in January and finish after Labor Day. The names of five more potential officers – who will also cover pending retirements – have been called off the civil service list, Jenkins told Town Council members earlier this month. They must now confirm their academy enrollment, which will likely take place by April or May.
Growing up around the corner from a police station in North Attleboro, Burr said he knew early on he wanted to be a cop. He joined the Marines out of high school, was deployed to Afghanistan, serving on a ship, and left the military after four years of service in 2002.
Burr is married and has one daughter. Prior to joining the department, he worked at the Town of Cohasset's waste water treatment plant.
Holt graduated from Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School in 2001 and served in the U.S. Navy from then until 2008. He was deployed to Iraq and Kuwait.
His father was a police officer for 30 years in Attleboro. "It's something I've always wanted to do," Holt said.
Before entering the academy, Holt worked for Allied Barton, a private security company. He is married with one son and is finishing a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from UMass Boston.
Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey, speaking at the swearing-in ceremony on Friday, praised the officers and veterans' preference, saying that Burr and Holt's military service "should serve the community well."
"It's a very, very powerful job," Morrissey said. "It's a challenging job."