May 9, 2013 7:40 PM by Lorraine Rivera
TUCSON - Tucson Police welcomed a new class of recruits Thursday. All 32 men and women successfully completed the 17 week academy.
Gerard Ascensio is among the recruits. He earned one of three awards presented at the ceremony. Ascension patrolled the U.S./Mexico border as a Border Patrol agent, served in the U.S. military and says he's excited about serving the Tucson community, "feels great to have some stability and plant my roots here."
Starting pay for a Tucson Police officer is listed as $45,965. Chief Roberto Villasenor says he recognizes that pay is an issue, "mayor and council have been trying to address that. It's been talked about, something that I am concerned about but right now I guarantee you every recruit is excited to start their new career."
A new police officer in Oro Valley will earn approximately $45,184 in the first year, while starting police officers in Sahuarita make $45,808. Marana is listed as $42,410.
Bill Bonanno, president the Tucson Police Officer's Assocation said 26 officers left the department last year, at least 20 left seeking a more competitive pay. He said a pay freeze has existed for the last six years.
But for new officers like Ascensio the job is not about the money, but loving the work, "there's a lot of definitions of being rich and it's not necessarily the amount of money you have in the bank, it's fulfillment, what you like doing."