HOUSTON - Reeling from a steady stream of retirements, the Houston Police Department is getting some much needed reinforcements.

A new class of cadets is about to hit the streets.

The 66 men and women took a solemn oath and received their badges at a graduation ceremony Wednesday night.

They’ll join a department of roughly 5,200 officers. It was the first graduating class of cadets for this year and follows a series of departures announced after city leaders adopted a pension reform plan.

“This class is obviously a step in the right direction,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. “But cops are used to doing more with less. And I think that’s what makes them so special.”

The new officers expressed pride in their accomplishment.

“It’s very special,” said Officer Alicia Montello. “I never thought I’d be here. It took a lot out of me to go through all of the training.”

Others seemed eager to get to work.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Officer Charlie Pocasangre. “I can’t wait to get out on the streets of Houston and serve the community and protect the community.”

Officer Demetrius Woodard called his decision to join the police force part of a higher calling.

“It’s what God put me on this earth for,” said Woodard. “I feel like it’s my duty to do.”

HPD plans to add extra cadet classes this year to bring on more officers.