HARRIS COUNTY -

The Harris County Sheriff's Office officially welcomed a new group of deputies into their force Tuesday afternoon.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia welcomed the 26 new deputies at the graduation ceremony. The newest class of deputies includes nine sheriff’s office employees who previously served as civilian detention officers in the Harris County Jail.

Officials say the graduates will now move to patrol duty as part the agency's frontline crime-fighting unit. 

The sheriff’s office says it plans to expand the patrol force to 735 deputies by next spring as the population in Harris County continues to increase.