SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Following the death of Sacramento Sheriff’s Deputy Robert French, recruits in the department’s training academy are getting a painful lesson in the risks they will take on as sworn officers.

French was killed in a shootout Wednesday, just as the current class of recruits begins their first week of training.

Inside the academy classroom, the walls are lined with the names of all those who graduated before them, including French.

One day after his death, there is no stopping instruction here. Amidst the pain of his tragic loss, his death is serving as a sobering reminder for recruits.

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“The fact that deputy French’s name is on the wall of this classroom where these recruits are learning, what do you think that tells them?,” CBS13’s Steve Large asked Training Academy director Sgt. Orrlando Mayes.

“It tells them that they’re just like him,” Mayes said.

He was also French’s friend.

“He went through the same training that they’re going through, and for them to see what happened to him, and be in the same position, that could easily happen to them, it’s pretty powerful,” Mayes said.

Mayes was part of the SWAT team called to the shootout where French was killed.

“It hurt, but I still had a mission to do I still had a job to do,” Mayes said.

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He and French had a birthday bond.

“Me and him always had an inside joke, because we have the same birthdate,” Mayes said. “So we’d always say that we’re brothers, we’re twins.”

Now as Mayes grieves the loss of his friend, French’s death is also providing a real-life lesson for those willing to choose this career.

“It just makes it a reality for them,” Mayes said.

There are currently 64 recruits in the current Sheriff’s Department Academy class. They are set to graduate in June of 2018.

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