PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It was March of 2020 when the last class of Philadelphia police recruits started training, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
That all changed on Monday when Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw gave a pep talk to the newest batch of aspiring officers before training officially started.
FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby admitted he wished the class was bigger but, at this point, he said he will take what he can get.
RELATED: Philadelphia police, nurses teach youth life-saving techniques amid gun violence surge
"We would have loved to have 100 but, right now, 48 is good," McNesby said. "We will take them, we welcome them with open arms. We are going to get them through the process."
The commissioner later expressed optimism that the department will be able to rebound after losing hundreds of officers over the past couple of years to retirement, resignation, and transfers.
She also expressed concern about the city's recent mandate that all new police recruits are required to live in Philadelphia for a year before applying.
"Other departments that don't necessarily have that restriction have the ability to go down to an HBCU, or go to other parts of the country, and be competitive," she said.
The Philadelphia Police Department is currently understaffed by about 300 officers, and each new class takes 10 months to train.
So, it could be years before the department is fully staffed.
RELATED: New regulations require Philadelphia police recruits be residents of city for a year
Regardless, the recruits are anxious to serve and protect the people of Philadelphia.
Angelina Caporiccio, of Northeast Philadelphia, said becoming a cop means the world to her.
"I am super excited. I am confident in myself, and I feel like I can be a great asset to the city and to this team," she said.
The recruits joined the force amid a wave of violence across the city, headlined by a 34% increase in homicides over this time last year.
New class of Philly police recruits begin training; first since start of pandemic