Los Angeles Airport Police recruit officer Tomas Garcia was selected as the number-one recruit in his graduation class from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Training Academy.

Garcia became one of the newest police officers for the Los Angeles World Airport Police Division during the graduation ceremony July 18th.

The 26-year-old Garcia, who was selected as the top recruit through careful examination of his performance and test scores, was the first non-LAPD officer to receive the William H. Parker “Number One Overall Recruit Officer” award, airport police said.

Parker, a former chief, is credited with transforming the LAPD

into a world renown law enforcement agency. The award was

created in Parker’s honor because he was the longest reigning LAPD police chief, serving on the force 39 years. In early 2001, retired Sgt. Lee Kirkwood was contracted by the Parker Foundation to create a replica of the bust of Chief Parker, which stands in front of LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. The replica is awarded to the number-one overall recruit officer at department graduations.

Garcia’s character and work ethic were recognized early on by members of the Airport Police assigned to the Van Nuys Airport, police said. Garcia previously worked as a custodian for the City of Los Angeles at the Van Nuys Airport police station.

He said he was going to college at the time and trying to determine what to do with his life until he was encouraged by Airport Police Sgt. Henry Acosta to enter law enforcement.

Garcia began at the academy in February along with 76 other police officer candidates, but by graduation day only 38 recruit officers remained.

“Garcia’s accomplishments are truly remarkable especially in light of the odds and worthy competition of all the other recruits,” said James T. Butts, Jr., deputy executive director of Law Enforcement and Protective Services. “He is an inspiration to us all.”

Airport Police Chief George R. Centeno added, “I am proud of all my officers. And as our organization continues its careful growth, it is police officers like Tomas Garcia that will take us to the next level of world class law enforcement and continue to make LAX one of the safest airports in the nation.”