There are still four months to go before the new officers are able to work alone and take up the slack in San Jose. But residents are hoping more officers will mean less crime
The new San Jose police officers marched into Parkside Hall with their heads held high to the music of bagpipes. Forty-three out of a class of 45 recruits were there to receive their badges and be sworn in as officers. This is the first police academy class to graduate since 2009.
On the streets of San Jose, residents like Freda Fraser are very happy that more officers will soon hit the streets.
"As a senior I don't like to go out after dark because I'm afraid," Fraser said. "I don't like what I see in the streets and if I saw more police officers I'd be willing to go for a walk."
The recruits have gone through six months of rigorous training. The ceremony is the culmination of 31-year-old Julian Taylor's dream to become a police officer.
"I've just been really excited about trying to do this and now that I'm at this point ..Just trying to accomplish the next step, which is the FTO phase," Taylor said.
FTO is field training, the last step before working the streets alone.
The graduation of the recruits is a small step to try and fill the vacancies in the department since budget cuts forced massive layoffs two years ago. Mayor Chuck Reed says these officers will help fill vacancies to better deal with the rising tide of violent and property crimes.
"We're taking officers from one job and putting them into patrols so they can respond to those violent crimes," Reed said. "But that means we depleted a lot of our capacity to respond to property crimes."
Jim Unland is the president of the San Jose Police Officers Association. He says more money and more academies are needed. He says these officers will not keep up with a rapidly shrinking department.
"We've been averaging 70 resignations for the last two years alone; it's going to be a real rough time for us for the next several years," he said.
The next class of 50 recruits will start April 15. Then another academy class is scheduled for September. The 400 hopefuls for that class are already undergoing background checks