OAKLAND -- Fresh off the heels of graduating a class of 38 cadets last week, the Oakland police department began a new academy Monday with 51 recruits.
Another academy is scheduled to begin in the fall to help rebuild a department that had shrunk to just 611 officers -- its lowest staffing level since 1996.
The city's hope is to get its staffing back up over 800 officers for the first time in four years, but that will be an expensive proposition according to budget estimates released last week.
Boosting police staffing to 833 officers by 2018 would cost $67 million, which is equivalent to about 16 percent of the city's current operations budget.
The City Council next Tuesday will review the report and begin talking about the upcoming two-year budget that is due by the end of June.