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By Angela Hill
San Jose Mercury News

OAKLAND - With gleaming badges, six-months of intense training and plenty of youthful enthusiasm, 38 new Oakland police officers were added to the force Friday, graduating from the 165th Oakland Police Academy and beefing up the ranks to a high of 837, the most officers in the department's history.
At least for the time being.
"This has been a historic achievement, a tremendous amount of work to get to this point, to finally get to the 803 officers mandated in 2004 by the voters in Measure Y, and even going beyond that to 837," said Mayor Ron Dellums after the graduation ceremony, which was held at the Elihu Harris State Building in downtown Oakland.
"In reality, we don't have money to employ officers beyond 803," he told reporters. "At a minimum, we're looking at postponing the next academy, and save a significant amount of money that way. But there comes a point where that money goes away.
"Also, worst-case scenario, we could lose five police officers a month through retirement and attrition. Maybe some, with the economy the way it is, will decide not to retire early. So we hope to maintain the integrity of the 803 at least till summer of next year."
The city had tried for several years to bring the department up to the voter-mandated standard. Measure Y provides $20 million a year for police and fire services and violence prevention programs. But it was often a struggle because of a lack of qualified candidates, and a high attrition rate. Dellums, under increasing pressure from residents to try to cut crime, promised last January to bring the force to full staffing levels by the end of this year.
"It has been monumental to get to this point," said Police Chief Wayne Tucker. "We started working in earnest in about May of 2005 in order to achieve this goal, increasing the frequency of academies. With the staff we have now, we have already seen a small decrease in crimes reported, and a 20 percent increase in arrests."
While most of the new officers will face their first challenges on the streets as soon as this weekend when their field training begins, Friday's graduation event was all about dress uniforms, white gloves, family members snapping photos and plenty of pomp. Tucker, accompanied by Dellums, inspected the class as the new officers stood at attention.
"Congratulations on completing one of the most rigorous academies in the state," he told them. "This is my 45th year in policing, and back in 1965, we hired based on strength, military background and brawn. We didn't place a lot of emphasis on the ability to work with human beings. What today's officers are expected to do - multi-tasking, keeping tabs on the police radio, watching the computer and watching the people on the street - it's become a profession, not just a job."
For several new officers, it's a profession that runs in the family. Gerald Pertoso Jr.'s father, Gerald Pertoso Sr., retired from the department. Jason Smoak's brother, Jeffrey Smoak, graduated from the academy in 2007 and is currently on the force. And Leah Supriano's father, Robert Supriano, is also on the force, making them the second father-daughter team on staff.
"I start 8 a.m. Sunday morning," Leah Supriano said. "My father has great stories about the training here, and the people he works with. So I'm looking forward getting to know the people in this city and the neighborhoods and the different styles of policing."
The new officers are Michael Arsanis, Melissa Baddie, John Breden, Randall Brown, James Cordero, Jennifer Cortez, Ross Curtin, Robert DeMarco, Adam DiGiusto, Kevin Dillon, Mark Douglas, Christopher Eggers, Jay Factora, Tim Gougeon, Arzo Homayun, Qiana Johnson, Jennifer Krump, Christopher Kuhr, Jesse Lawless, Jeremy Lewis, Thomas Lopez, Brendan McGovern, Samuel Meyer, Billy Moore, Michael Morris, Brendan Muratori, Francisco Negrete, Todd O'Connor, Joshua O'Mary, Keith Perea, Gerald Pertoso, Brenton Reeder, Michael Ricchiuto, John Romero, John Scheuring, Mark Shokair, Jason Smoak and Leah Supriano.
The academy is a 26-week course covering instruction on law, ethics, patrol procedures, community policing, tactical communication, report writing, firearms, vehicle pursuits and more.

Wire Service
 
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