OAKLAND (KCBS) — In a major step to improve low staffing levels, on Friday the Oakland Police Department graduated its first academy since 2008.
Thirty-one men and seven women were sworn in as new officers, in front of hundreds of cheering friends and family at the city’s Scottish Rite Temple.
“This is the beginning of a process to rebuild this organization, to give us an opportunity to put the much need resources in the city to help fight crime,” Police Chief Howard Jordan said.
The number of officers on Oakland’s force is at its lowest level in more than a decade. Friday’s graduating class, the department’s 166th, boosted the department’s staffing from 611 to 649 officers.
Mayor Jean Quan described it as a happy day for Oakland. “This is our first academy in four years, my first academy. It’s the most diverse in our history. It has the most women graduates and the most bilingual graduates. It’s an academy that looks a lot like the city,” Quan said.
Graduate Brenton Lowe, who was named class valedictorian, said he felt honored to be serving as a police officer in Oakland and talked about his mission as police officer.
“I’ll treat everybody the same as I would my family. I know many people in my class that have family that live in the city as well, and I will just serve everybody equally,” he said.
The department is preparing to add even more officers. A new academy of 55 cadets is set to begin on Monday.
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