The city of Oakland's own data shows that violent crimes are up 19.7 percent and property crimes are up 26 percent. But in eight days, there will be more boots on the ground dedicated to serving the Oakland Police Department and committed to reversing that troubling trend.
Those boots belong to the proud graduating class of OPD's 167th basic academy. If there is one thing everyone in Oakland can agree on, it's that the city needs more officers. On Friday, 36 were added to department's ranks. Once the graduates hit the ground, there will be 647 officers on the streets, still leaving the department close to 200 officers short of desired staffing levels needed for a city the size of Oakland.
Asked why he would join a department with the odds so heavily stacked against him, one new officer trainee told ABC7 News, "It's a family business." Officer Matthew Galvan is third-generation law enforcement -- service is in his blood. His dad is an officer and his grandfather graduated from the Oakland Basic Academy 57 years ago.
"The city of Oakland is struggling, but what I see is, I see an upturn. I see that the city is going to be flourishing. It's on the upturn and I want to be part of that change, that positive change," Galvan said.
Friday's class also reflects the diversity of the community. Almost half speak a second language and six of the graduates are women including Officer Beckwith, an Oakland resident and graduate of Holy Names University.
"I see the need. I have a heart for people. I'm very compassionate about law and justice, so I wanted to serve," she said.
The recruiting efforts for Oakland police continue. According to the chief, their goal is to graduate a new class every six months. The next academy begins on September 30.