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Michael L. Bauer made an unusual career change today.

The 44-year-old former Amherst computer company salesman joined with 16 other people, many much younger than him, in taking the oath of office to become Buffalo police officers.

"I like working with the public and with children," said Bauer, his wife, Andrea, and their four young children gathered around him at Buffalo Police Headquarters. "If I can make a contribution to society, I will have completed my goals."

Christopher, Bauer's 12-year-old son, beamed with pride at his father. "I think it's good that my dad's a cop. He'll be a good one," he said.

Fifteen-year-old Michael and nine-year-old Michelle agreed with their brother. Six-month-old Alex Bauer rested contentedly in his mother's arms.

Police officials also think Bauer will make a good addition to the department.

"I think it's commendable. Nobody should be limited by age," said Capt. Thomas Telesco, director of the department's Training Academy.

Bauer, who had been working at Ingram Micro in Amherst, is among a handful of older individuals who have become police officers in their 40s, according to department officials.

In welcoming all of the recruits, Police Commissioner Rocco J. Diina told them they now have a second family -- the Buffalo Police Department. He urged them to act in a manner that would bring credit to the department.

"We are the second largest police agency in New York State and we're proud of that," Diina said.

The other recruits are:

Simone Brown, Derrick L. Ferrell, Derrick L. Floyd, Clyvette Grayson, Lavonne Handsor, Roscoe C. Henderson, Walter A. Hrynczak, Carl A. Lundin, Christopher Mendola, George R. Nash, Kevin R. Paul, Terry B. Polk, Todd S. Saffron, Bridget A. Szymanski, Robbin M. Thomas and Pamela L. Westbrook.

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