Crowd of applicants shows up for DPD hiring event

Dozens of people ready to become Dallas police officers showed up for a hiring event at the Jack Evans Police Headquarters Thursday morning.

The Dallas Police Department said this month’s civil service and physical fitness tests, some of the first steps to becoming a Dallas police officer, were scheduled prior to the events that occurred this week.

On Tuesday, 29-year-old Armando Luis Juarez shot two DPD officers and a Home Depot loss prevention officer while being questioned about shoplifting. Officer Rogelio Santander died from his injuries. Officer Crystal Almeida and loss prevention officer Scott Painter, remain in critical condition.

The police department assumed there would be a smaller crowd of applicants this month because of what happened. Around 70 people showed up to respond to the call to protect and serve -- that’s about 20 to 30 more applicants than usual.

“Despite it, there is a packed room full of applicants,” said Debra Webb, a spokeswoman for the police department.

Some candidates said they are inspired by the officers' heroic efforts.

"In a way, it makes you think about is this really want I want to do? Am I really willing to put my life on the line for my city and my community? And yes, I'm still willing to do that," Amanda Martin said.

But for many, showing up did not come without some honest conversations with their families.

"I'm married and have two kids, it is obviously a concern,” said applicant Prestin Parker.

After the shooting, Parker knew he needed to talk about the dangers of the job with his wife.

"We had a long talk, by the end of the time we were done talking, we decided, this is where we want to be.,” Parker said.

It takes a special kind of person to put their life on the line -- one reason DPD has a tough time recruiting enough police officers.

“We thought the tragedy that happened a couple of days ago would affect recruiting. But it's been the complete opposite,” said DPD Sgt. George Aranda. “These individuals have shown up, they are ready to go. It's a true calling.”

Each applicant has a different reason for wanting to protect and serve.

Saif Hasan just came off active duty in the U.S. Army and was born in Baghdad. He said he wanted to give back after the U.S. got rid of Saddam Hussein more than a decade ago. He knows the dangers involved, but showed up on Thursday despite the deadly shooting on Tuesday.

"It actually encourages me. It's perseverance. You overcome obstacles. Don't let that discourage you. Fall the first time, keep going at it. Don't let events like that discourage you from pursuing hopes and dreams," Hasan said.

After the tests, the applicants will still have to pass a medical exam, background check, polygraph test, interviews and more.

The Dallas Police Department needs to hire around 250 police officers this year.