Brittany Davidson has until Monday night to overcome her fear of the dark.
That's when Davidson will work her first shift as a rookie Colorado Springs police officer after graduating Friday from the department's academy.
"I've got to make sure my flashlight is charged, right?" said Davidson, laughing. "I've got two of them - I'm ready."
Davidson, 23, was one of 54 police recruits to join the force, bringing the Police Department's total number of sworn officers to 700.
The 27-week academy began with 62 recruits, police Lt. Howard Black said. Those who made it through - completing more than 1,062 hours of academic and skill-based training - were sworn in in front of hundreds of people at Village Seven Presbyterian Church, where the ceremony was held to accommodate the crowd.
Being on stage was "nerve-wracking," but finally getting to hold her badge was worth it, Davidson said. "Just having that in my hand, it was absolutely amazing. There's no way to describe the feeling."
The graduating class was the largest in Colorado Springs history, pushing the number of sworn officers closer to the Police Department's authorized strength of 706.
"When we can put additional officers on the streets to answer the calls for service, that brings down our response time - that's the focus," Black said. "It's huge."
Though Friday was a day of celebration, the new officers' training isn't done. Each will undergo 15 weeks of supervised, on-the-job training.
"Recruits, there's still a lot to learn and many challenges to face, but your training and life experiences will serve you well in the weeks, months and years to come," Chief Peter Carey said during the ceremony.
Mayor John Suthers reminded the graduating class of the responsibility they had accepted.
"Peace officers are engaged on a daily basis in the ongoing battle between good an evil - that sounds dramatic, but it's true," Suthers said. "Murder is evil. Assault is evil. Rape is evil. Theft is evil. And these officers fight those evils every day. ... Not everyone has the opportunity to be involved in something so meaningful as preserving public safety."
An officer's most important traits are empathy and compassion, said Kyle Wilson, who maintained the highest academic average during the academy. He and his wife, Amy, moved from Irving, Calif., when he was accepted into the police academy in Colorado Springs.
"You've got to be someone that can care for others and also have that will and the spirit to continue on when things get tough," said Wilson, 30. "There's no quitting on this job."
Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198