NBC Bay Area went inside the walls of the San Jose Police Academy a force decimated after a year of defections. Now the new crop of cadets is getting ready to hit the streets of the Bay Area's largest city as it faces an uptick in deadly crime. Reporter Damian Trujillo got this exclusive look at the training.
It’s been three years since the San Jose Police Department last had an academy. On Monday, Acting Chief Larry Esquivel was giving the group a final inspection. Esquivel and his commanders had the recruits recite the code of ethics. They checked their handcuffs. They swabbed their guns with a Q-Tip to check for cleanliness.
“Very professional,” Esquivel said. “I tell you, we can’t wait to get them out there.”
This academy comes at a time when the force desperately needs their help.
More than 130 officers either resigned or retired in 2012, many angry over cuts in pay and pension.
“This is a great start, but it’s only part of the equation,” Acting Assistant Chief Ed Garcia said. “We need to retain the force that we have and we need to continue with recruits and the academy graduates.”
The recruits also face rising crime, and they may have to use those guns that commanders inspected today.
“It’s a dangerous profession. It’s important they keep themselves safe and get as much training as they can to be prepared in case that ever happens,” Esquivel said. “At least be prepared in case it happens.”
If they make it the final two weeks of the academy, the recruits will receive their badges on March 15. They will then be on patrol with a supervisor until they hit the streets alone by early summer.
“It’s an honor to be a San Jose police officer,” Garcia said. “And regardless of the recent events that have occurred, we have not lost our luster.”