LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — With law enforcement agencies across the country under fire over allegations from excessive force to racial profiling, there are still quite a few people hoping to make a difference as a police officer.

Mireya Gonzales turned 28 Thursday, will graduate from Citrus College Saturday and is hoping to join the Los Angeles Police Department in the future.

“Right now, all over the news – law enforcement, they don’t have a great stand right now and so what I’d like to do is show the youths a different side,” she said.

Gonzales was among nearly 20 people who took the LAPD’s entry level exam Friday.

Even with local protests against the deadly officer-involved shooting of a mentally ill man, Ezell Ford, and riots in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore against the police – the LAPD says it has seen a lot of interest at recruiting events.

“A lot of people don’t realize these people put their lives on the line on a daily basis,” criminal justice student Joe Montano said.

The department aims to put at least 40 people in its academy every month to offset retirements.

Recruiters say it’s important for applicants to be upfront about legal issues, such as previous drug use and their financial records.

“We don’t expect you to be perfect, but we do expect honesty,” LAPD spokesman Bruce Borihanh said.

Gonzales is a volunteer athletic coach and believes her work with kids will become a bridge for the LAPD.

“Showing love and compassion that can help some of the gaps that are going on right now,” she said.

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