By Tara Kyle
MIDTOWN — While most of Manhattan hid indoors Monday, the NYPD's 1,147 newest police officers braved the snow to attend their graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden.
The rookie cops will get their first assignment in just four days, when each of them will be deployed around Times Square for New Year's Eve festivities.
"You are no longer bystanders, you are police officers," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told the new class during the ceremony, which could not be rescheduled due to availability issues at the Garden. "You will confront dangers while others flee…to put service above self speaks volumes about your character."
One of those new police officers was Mayor's Award and physical fitness award winner Dennis Maxim. He recalled his earliest days of training, when he dropped the 3,000 page patrol guide and had to put the whole thing back together, one page at a time.
"Now here we are, wearing our NYPD uniforms, no longer those recruit greys," Maxim said in a speech to his classmates. "We did this together, to prove we are New York's Fnest."
Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the diversity of the new class, which includes military veterans, professionals in law and medicine, natives of 53 countries and speakers of 48 languages.
Speakers of Spanish have by far the highest representation, comprising approximately one-fourth of the new class. A handful of graduates speak each of a number of languages critical for counter-terrorism efforts including Arabic and Urdu.
"Whatever your background may be, whatever path you walked to this day, you all now share the same solemn mission," Bloomberg said. "By making our city safer, you're giving New Yorkers a better future."