SAN JOSE (KPIX) — A group of newly-sworn San Jose police officers made history Friday even before they hit the streets.
“One year of work and intense training and stress, it’s just kind of been lifted off,” said Ofc. Brittani Garrison.READ MORE: Lake County Luxury Hotel, Housing Project Raises Concerns Over Wildfire Risk
She was among the 42 officers who graduated and were sworn in after a 12-month academy. It was the longest-running academy in the department’s history. Typically, training is seven months long but the 38th graduating class began their academy just one month before last year’s March COVID-19 shutdown.
“At first it was a disappointment but then you realize for this job you really have to be adaptable,” Garrison said.
For three months, according to Ofc. Zachary Williams, the academy was on pause, dashing dreams of patrolling the streets before the end of 2020.
Williams, however, saw it as an opportunity.
“It was three months that we took advantage of,” he said. “We were able to study a lot more.”READ MORE: Theft Leaves San Jose Couple Bereft: 'We’re Heartbroken, All Our Precious Things Are Gone'
Acting police chief David Tindall noted the group also went through the academy during a time of civil unrest, wildfires and a change of presidency.
“You have endured challenges to your training never imagined,” Tindall said to the crowd of rookie officers.
The 42 officers are also the most diverse to date, he said. Thirteen speak a second language and ten of the recruits are women.
“Some of you have come as far as South Africa and Afghanistan. You were orphans, NFL players and community service officers,” Tindall said. “It is so, so important that we reflect the communities that we serve.”
Williams, who is a former Carolina Panthers player, said he’s still getting used to his new title.
“It feels different, it feels weird now that I’m saying that I’m an actual police officer,” Williams said.MORE NEWS: Indoor Restaurant Dining Resumes, Movie Theaters Reopen in SF and Santa Clara Counties
The officers will undergo 16 more weeks of field training before they’re on their own.