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Twenty-five cadets graduated Wednesday from the Oakland Police Department’s basic recruit academy, adding officers to what has been a shrinking department, police said.

The Dec. 22 graduation took place at the Scottish Rite Center and the new class raises the number of sworn staff to 694, which is enough to meet the requirements of Measure Z, a parcel tax approved by voters in 2014. The Police Department has been losing more than the expected number of officers because of retirements and resignations.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf congratulated the cadets and said in a statement, “As officers, they will have the opportunity to make people feel safe, which is an incredible gift and an immense responsibility.”

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong, who has been advocating for more officers, said, “I truly understand how important it is for the Oakland Police Department to strengthen our relationship with the community we serve. When police departments under-invest in communities for many years, you must over-invest in the community in order to build trust.”

“When police departments under-invest in communities for many years, you must over-invest in the community in order to build trust.”

Chief LeRonne Armstrong

The Police Department is authorized to hire more than 700 officers, and Armstrong thinks his department needs 1,100 to 1,200 officers, given the size of Oakland’s population.

The new graduates join the department as violent crime has surged in the city over the past two years. More than 130 homicides have occurred in Oakland this year, up from 109 last year and 81 the year before.

Police have blamed the surge at least partly on COVID-19, which has prevented them from implementing the Ceasefire intervention program as they have in the past. The surge in violence during the pandemic has occurred in other cities across the nation, not just in Oakland.

Nine of the new officers either live in Oakland or have close ties to Oakland, Armstrong said.

The graduates are Jorge Aguilar, Hakim Alaoui, Julia Alarcon, Isias Alcantar, Jacqueline Alvarez, Michael Armah, Irene Arzate, Cody Burman, Jordan Bustos, Harold Cajucom, Rafael Casares, Gregory Chen, Angelo Dentoni, Marlesha Everett, Jesse Hawes, Bryan Jimenez, John Kang, Bryce Lee, John Magana, Angel Marigny, Spencer Mikell, Brandon Moss (Valedictorian), Ruby Resendiz, Raul Rodriguez, and Alberto Vazquez.