New recruits graduated from the San Francisco police academy last Friday after 31 weeks of classes there.
"On behalf of the 234th recruit class, we'd like to pass on the colors of the academy," said an officer at the ceremony.
They gave their flag to the newest class of recruits, but the new graduates won't be hitting the streets by themselves for some time.
"Between the 31-week academy and 16 weeks of field training and then probation, we're looking at towards a year before we have an officer really functioning in our community," said Capt. David Lazar, who runs the police academy.
The department is short about 200 officers from the staffing level of 1,971 mandated by the city charter. These new recruits will help fill that gap down the road. To help in the short term, the department is relying on another set of recruits -- the 236th class, who are experienced veterans on the fast track.
"We're also privileged to have the 236th lateral class starting with us yesterday, coming to this police department with years of experience," said Lazar.
Lazar is referring to 23 officers dubbed "laterals" those who transferred from other police departments.
Their academy training will be only eight weeks and after a brief 10 weeks of field training, they'll hit the streets. The San Francisco Police Department has been flooded with applications from experienced cops. Many come from cities with troubled departments like Oakland and San Jose.
"In San Jose, you know, constantly pay cuts, a new pension that knocked it down to like a 65 percent maximum," said Gary Delagnes, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association. "And because of the absolutely chaotic political situation in Oakland, we're seeing a lot of police officers trying to transfer into our department to get out of that very unstable situation over there."
In this class alone, there are four former officers from Oakland. The one the police department allowed us to speak with was a sergeant with 25 years' experience in the Oakland Police Department. Rick Andreott, 48, said he was looking forward to becoming a cop in San Francisco.
"I wanted to end my career here serving the city that I grew up in and the San Francisco Police Department has a worldwide reputation," said Andreott.
San Francisco is an attractive refuge.
"We have what's viewed as a stable police department where you don't have to worry about being laid off," said Delagnes.
Just as attractive, starting pay is $88,000 a year. In five years, the new recruits will earn $115,000. Police in San Francisco retire at 90 percent of their salary.