The New York Police Department has hired its largest recruit class in five years, welcoming 1,635 cadets to the police academy, the department announced.

The new recruits were welcomed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly during a Wednesday ceremony. Commissioner Kelly administered the oath of office at a swearing-in ceremony inside the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College.

"Whether this is your second career or your first job out of college, your skills and life experience are invaluable to our mission of reducing crime, defending against terrorism, and forging cooperative relationships with the people we serve," said Commissioner Kelly. "I look forward to joining Mayor Bloomberg this winter to celebrate your graduation."

The recruits form the largest Police Academy since 2006 and begin official training at the Police Academy in Manhattan on Monday. It's a diverse group. Of the new class, 16 percent were born overseas in 55 different countries

More than 30 percent of the recruits hold bachelor's degrees, and 22 have earned advanced degrees. In a nation at war, 71 have served in the U.S. military in Iraq or Afghanistan and 58 percent reside in the five boroughs.

"While the city's fiscal situation remains difficult, we are committed to maintaining and building on the dramatic improvements in public safety achieved by the NYPD over the last decade," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The new is the largest single infusion of officers into the department in five years and it reflects the diverse population it will help protect."