SFPD welcomes 37 new officers

Eight months ago, they were recruits hoping to make the cut. 

Friday night, 34 men and 3 women stood on stage at the Scottish Rite Center for their graduation ceremony as San Francisco Police Academy's 261st class. 

"We believe you are ready. Class of 261. Are you ready?" asked Police Chief William Scott. 

The graduates answered in unison, "Yes sir."

This new class joins a police force of 1,990 active sworn officers. Of those, 31.5% have been with the department five years or less. 

The new class represents the increasing diversity of the department which has multilingual officers representing 30 languages.

The department's data on officer demographics show about 49% are White, more than 9% Black, about 17% are Hispanic, 16% Asian, more than 5% Filipino, with smaller numbers of Native Americans and other categories. 

About 15% of the sworn officers are female.

Tawnya Stansell, is the eldest in the new police academy class. She's in her forties and a mother of two teenage sons. She said she wants to use her background as a social worker to help serve.

"I had worked as a social worker for many years, about 15 years in Marin, Sonoma County, Oregon State as well. And most recently doing child abuse investigations," said Stansell.

But Stansell and her fellow graduates are entering a profession that has been under great public scrutiny in recent years regarding issues such as the use of force and profiling. . 

And yet, these academy graduates still decided to pursue police work.

It does give me pause. but at the other hand I feel like I want to be someone who is out there showing people that that perception is not necessarily correct," said Stansell.

"That was why I wanted to become an officer, to be a bridge between communities. Because when I was growing up I saw officers doing good but sometiems getting a bad rap," said Paul A. Ellison, Junior, another SFPD Academy graduate.

Chief Scott says along with meeting the physical requirements, San Francisco police officers need to have compassion, be good citizens on and off duty, and hold themselves to high standards..

"You have to be honest. You have to be willing to be transparent. And when I say transparent, you know, there's a lot of scrutiny on our profession. And you have to willing to be open and allow the public to actually understand and see how we do what we do," said Chief Scott.

Those ideals of what it means to be a police officer in 2019 were drilled home at the academy.

"Just pretend like that person we don't know is our family and we treat them exactly how we'd want another officer would treat our family," said Nathan Leung, another academy graduate.