Mercury News - San Jose
30 Oakland police graduate
MAYOR GIVES OUT BADGES, CELEBRATES LARGE SIZE OF CLASS
Sat, Feb. 10, 2007
By Harry Harris
With Oakland's mayor participating in the ceremony for the first time, 30 new police officers -- the largest group in more than four years -- graduated Friday from the recruit academy.
It was a day of celebration for almost 400 friends, relatives and fellow officers who packed the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland to watch the graduation of the 159th academy class.
And it seemed no one missed an opportunity to applaud or yell encouragement. The reinforcements are glad tidings for Oakland, which had close to 150 homicides last year -- one of its bloodiest totals in a decade, and 60 percent more than the year before. The city also saw sharp rises in assaults, rapes, robberies and vehicle thefts.
The additions bring the number of Oakland officers to 724, still short of the 803 authorized positions. And more are on the way. Police officials for months have been looking to that pipeline of recruits as a means of improving police services.
Mayor Ron Dellums -- who made crime his highest priority during his campaign -- seemed to enjoy himself, as he joined Police Chief Wayne Tucker in inspecting the class and presenting the graduates with their badges, the first mayor ever to do so. Dellums offered each new officer his congratulations and thanked them for joining the department as he shook their hands.
In remarks to the audience later, Dellums praised the new officers for completing the 22-week academy. ``You endured, you survived, you persevered and now you have prevailed,'' he said.
He said a video of what the officers went through in the academy, shown at the ceremony, brought back memories of the ``intense training'' he got as a Marine.
He said he knew they each had several ``gut check'' moments but still they realized that ``failure was not an option.'' What they accomplished ``took a lot of heart, a lot of courage,'' he said.
He told the officers they will ensure the right of every citizen to have a ``sense of safety and security'' in their community and their commitment ``to protect and serve'' will be a key in making that happen.
``We know police officers cannot do it alone. You still are the thin blue line,'' the mayor said. He urged them to embrace community policing and said such involvement will make ``people feel secure in their community.''
He said if there can be a ``great corroboration'' between police and the community, then ``the health, vitality and safety of our residents is guaranteed.''
Also graduating Friday were an officer in Fremont and an officer in Vallejo.