OAKLAND -- Forty-seven badly needed officers joined the Oakland Police Department Friday in what officials said was the largest-ever class of recruits to graduate and one of the most ethnically diverse.
Before the graduation of the 168th Basic Recruit Academy at the Scottish Rite Center, the department had 612 officers in its ranks, well below the 900-plus officers experts have said the city needs. More than 500 people attended the graduation, the largest audience ever and one of the most raucous, with yelling, standing ovations and an occasional air horn blast contributing to the ceremony.
The new officers included some who will start their first shifts in field training status Saturday. They were warmly greeted by Interim police Chief Sean Whent, who said they "represent the city's commitment to increase public safety."
He congratulated them for completing the rigorous six-month academy and praised their "dedication and perseverance." He said their ability to build relationships with residents and business owners "is the key to your success and the department's success. Police work is service to others ... and you will find that helping others is the most rewarding part of your job."
The new officers are: Matthew Perry, the class valedictorian and winner of the best marksman award, Keith O. Armstrong, Lorena Arreola, Omar Assad Jr., Jonathan Cairo, Michael Camacho, Joseph A. Camarillo, Kyle L. Cardana, Danny Z. Cheng, Eric Esparza, James A. Garcia, Christopher Ryan Giacomini, Lance D. Hayley, Ty David Hawkins, Julio Jolivette, Matthew W. Jung, Christina Kazarian, Nigel W. Lawson, Courtney N. Lewis, Peni A. Likio, Kenneth R. Lindsey, Khyber Mangal, Vincente J. Morado II, Alejandro Navarro, Anh Nguyen, Chevalier K. Patterson, Brandon S. Perry, Moises Israel Polanco, Thomas Quezada, Daniel Quezada-Garcia, Miguel A. Ramos, Nicholas Vicente Ramos, Kathryn Reymundo, Mariza Rivera, Robert A. Rodriguez, Antonio E. Rushing II, Jaymie Salgado, Jerry S. Sanchez, John R. Shackford, Robert L. Smith, Terryl J. Smith, Blake L. Stephens, James Ta'ai Jr., Travis Gregory Tompkins, Kevin P. Tran, Lester E. Urbina Jr. and Karolina Zachoszcz.
Officials said more than half the class speaks a second language, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Tongan, Farsi, Punjabi, Pashto, Polish, Italian, Arabic and Samoan.