Metro Transit welcomed its largest and most diverse class of recruits in the transit agency's history Friday by adding 19 full-time officers to the force.

Transit Police Chief John Harrington pinned badges on and swore in 16 men and 3 women during a graduation attended by friends, family members and law enforcement from metro area departments at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Minneapolis.

More than half of the Class of 2013 includes officers with various cultural backgrounds (blacks, Somali and Latino) and an equal number who speak Arabic, Somali or Spanish.

"It has been said that the seeds of a better tomorrow are planted by what you do today, and what we are doing today is helping this community realize a safer tomorrow,"  Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb told the class. "This is a difficult job. It's a job that you won't always get a proper thanks for what you do, but it is a job that the community needs and appreciates. This is a great day. It is so important that Metro Transit reflects the community that we serve. You are face of the future."

With the additions, Metro Transit now has 83 full-time police officers and another 60 others who work part time.

Metro Transit added 22 part-time officers earlier this year and will hire another 26 who will join the force this fall. The agency said it is expanding its police force in conjunction with the opening of the new Red Line BRT service on Cedar Avenue and next year’s opening of the Green Line light-rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The new officers are: Salah Ahmed, Brandon Colvin, Timothy Conley, Erika Hatle, Abdulkhayr Hirse, Rachael Ives, Marcus Johnson, Sara Kahler, Ryan Knoll, Noah Landers, Corey Martens, Emmanuel Martinez-Cruz, Leonard Mitchell, Samuel Scheeler, Brett Schuck, John Steele, LaFayette Temple and Larry Wright.

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