Shoot first, cadets. Foot pursuits smack of effort.

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By G.W. Schulz

*UPDATE: SGT. NEVILLE GITTENS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPARTMENT'S PRESS OFFICE WANTED TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT HE WAS OUT OF TOWN WHEN WE LEFT A MESSAGE FOR HIM INQUIRING ABOUT THIS REPORT. INDEED, THE SFPD'S PRESS OFFICE NEVER RETURNED OUR CALL, BUT GITTENS SAYS FOR THE RECORD THAT HE WASN'T AT WORK THAT DAY, AND IT WASN'T PERSONALLY HIS FAULT THAT WE DIDN'T HEAR BACK FROM THE DEPARTMENT. THANK YOU FOR THAT CLARIFICATION, SERGEANT.

We were going to save this item for the briefs section on Wednesday, but another piece came up at the last minute, so here you go.

Last week, flaks from the San Francisco Police Department sent out a press release proudly announcing that 40 men and women would be officially graduating from the police academy August 10.

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But the department’s badly needed infusion of rookie officers comes with a caveat. Someone recently called the whistleblower hotline at the San Francisco Controller’s Office to complain that an officer “had failed the agility test, but was able to advance to the oral board portion of the exam,” according to a regular summary of the tips posted on the city’s Web site.

The whistleblower reports don't name names but do outline allegations of fraud, waste and employee misconduct in addition to explaining how investigators responded.

Officer Maria Oropeza from the academy wouldn’t answer questions about the complaint and directed us to Sgt. Neville Gittens in the department’s press office, who didn’t return calls by this afternoon.

But an inquiry from the controller responding to the complaint revealed that previously, applicants who failed the physical ability test weren’t allowed to participate in the oral interview. The exam period that inspired the complaint, however, was amended to allow candidates who passed the written examination to join an eligible list and improve their physical fitness in the interim before retaking that portion of the test within two years.

Investigators didn’t conclude that any rules were violated, but there’s no doubt San Francisco is desperate for new officers.

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