OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — The Oakland Police Department welcomed 26 new officers to its ranks Friday during a police academy graduation ceremony. The green officers will be putting on a badge and uniform to patrol a city that experienced a backlash against law enforcement over the past two years.

In the wake of anti-police brutality protests and rally cries for “defunding the police,” more than 120 officers have left the Oakland Police Department.

“Today’s addition of new police officers is truly welcome as the wait times for our residents who call 911 for a police officer continue to grow,” Oakland Police Officers’ Association President Barry Donelan said.

“Our dwindling ranks of police officers are struggling to address high levels of violent crime,” Donelan said.

The 26 new officers are joining a “beleaguered department, facing high crime with police staffing levels at their lowest in a decade,” according to the police union.

Going into the summer of 2022, the Oakland Police Department is still losing existing police officers to other police departments faster than it can hire new officers to replace them, according to the union.

In 2021, 86 police officers left Oakland. So far in 2022, 40 officers have left.

“At this pace we’re looking at 100 (leaving) by the end of the year,” Donelan said.

“Officers are leaving to serve others in communities where they are valued as dedicated and well-trained public servants,” the police union wrote.

Donelan said, “Oakland needs hundreds of additional police officers.”

Chris Catren, the president of the California Police Chiefs Association, said the majority of Northern California’s police chiefs are struggling to recruit, hire, and retain officers.

OPD’s officer recruitment website says the department is looking for “kind, engaged, and committed people to join.”

Catren said the cost of housing is a deterrent for some people considering a career in law enforcement. He also said the prospect of becoming an officer became less attractive after the summer of 2020 protests.

“After the George Floyd murder, the protests that ensued made the job less attractive,” Catren said.