Sheriff's academy grads to fan out, including some following in fathers' footsteps

Cheers and applause filled the room on Monday as 49 men and women graduated from the 177th academy of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Regional Training Center.

The newly minted officers will disperse to 15 police departments and two sheriff's offices across Northern California.

"I love graduations, you know, it brings a level of excitement, and it encourages me that we have a number of people who are still wanting to be part of this noble profession," said Alameda County Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez.

The day was a jubilant occasion, with families and friends coming together to acknowledge the rigorous physical and classroom training the graduates underwent in their commitment to serving the community.

However, they still have field training ahead of them.

Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Officer Collin Manley earned several accolades, including top gun, top physical fitness, and the title of overall top recruit.

"I know that I still have a long journey ahead of me, and I still have a lot of work to put in, but I'm excited to get back to the agency and join the family," Manley said.

One of the graduates, Vincent Starzyk, carries a unique legacy. His father, Martinez police Sgt. Paul Starzyk, was shot and killed while on duty in 2008. At the time, Vincent was just 5 years old. On Monday, he was among the six officers joining the Antioch police force.

"Part of this was us helping Vincent recognize his dreams and help accomplish his goals" said acting Antioch Police Chief Joe Vigil, who described the new officers as "a good group of six young men coming to help out the city and the police department where we can really use them."

Another standout graduate, Concord police Officer Colton Meredith, received top academic honors. He also follows in the footsteps of his father, a retired Berkeley police officer.

"Seeing my dad do it, I now Starzyk and a few others in the class feel the same way, they saw it, their parents do it, and just want to carry on the legacy," Meredith said.

A legacy for the future with the promise to serve. Their new badges are symbols of public faith. 

Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and