Seventeen new Sovereign Base Area Police officers have been sworn by Chief Constable Mick Matthews in Dhekelia with a further 14 joining on March 28, the British bases said on Tueday.
When the final batch of recruits take the oath in March, it will mean 24 new Greek Cypriot officers and seven Turkish Cypriot officers will have joined the SBA police.
The bases described the latest intake as “one of the most rigorous and detailed recruitment processes ever undertaken by the force”.
When the positions were first advertised in January last year, the SBA police received 2,150 applications for only 31 positions.
And according to a group of new recruits, despite the gruelling nature of the process, they feel prepared and confident to undertake their new responsibilities, the bases said.
Savvas Pitsillos, a 25 year old from Aradippou in Larnaca, said: “I feel very lucky to be here and to start my career as an SBA police officer. It was a very tough process and there was so much happening but it has really prepared us well for the training ahead.”
Maria Charalambous, 27, one of 11 women joining, said: “I am very excited… the procedure was tough but it was the right thing to do to ensure that the police got the right people. I learnt so much during the recruitment process, as a woman, I had never fired a weapon before so that was a new experience for me, one that I enjoyed.”
Turkish Cypriot, Behic Mustafa, 36, who lives in northern Nicosia, added: “I feel very honoured, excited and happy to be an SBA Police officer. It was a hard process and there was a lot of anxious waiting to find out if I had made it but now that I have, I am looking forward to my training and getting to the level where i can get out and start policing the streets.”
The new recruits were also pleased to be working side-by-side with compatriots from across the divide.
Maria Charalambous said: “We are all good friends and we see ourselves as one team. We have been together from day one and although we are a mixture of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, we are one police force and we are very happy together.”
The new recruits now begin 16 weeks of classroom-based training before joining individual units across the SBAs.