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Operating the police department in Oakland has a lot of complexity. However, Chief Whent is on the right track by (finally) pointing out that staffing is the major issue. Really, he should be asking for even MORE officers immediately, and probably does behind closed doors.
PATROLLING: For those who think that patrolling the City of Oakland is not a high priority, just realize that at any one point in a 24-hour day, there are no more than 30 OPD officers patrolling Oakland. Total. For the entire city. Examining the response times logged in to the current Dispatch system, there are many times when Priority 1 (murder, threatened murder, rape, etc.) calls have a minimum response time of 45 minutes, and many times goes in excess of this. Priority 2 calls usually do not get any response, and for sure the Priority 3 calls are done on a catch-as-catch can basis, usually (if they are ever responded to at all) very early in the morning (2-3 a.m.). The investigations staff of OPD certainly needs to be expanded. But, it does not make sense to take from an already stressed patrol staff to staff investigations.
OPD STAFFING: Mayor Libby Schaaf had promised to address the OPD staffing issues during her long campaign for Mayor, and she has failed, to date, to live up to any of her promises regarding public safety, and especially to immediately increase the OPD staff to a minimal operating level. Quickly adding 40 officers given the current rate of officer attrition in the department is simply keeping the staffing at the same level, not even trying to increase the department's numbers. It is true that she has moved OPD staffing slightly in the right direction, but compared to the minimal levels recommended by Former Chief Anthony Batts at 1200 officers, it is not even a drop in the bucket.
OAKLAND BUDGET: As to Robert Gammon's assertion that the only way to really expand the staffing (up to 800, or more) in a short time-frame would be to close libraries, senior homes, etc., is just mouthing the OLD Oakland politico's methodology to get votes for things like Measure Z. There are many sources of funds within Oakland's 1.2 Billion a year budget if there is a political will to face off clearly with the budget process. The money is really there, but it is a matter of distorted civic priorities that this is not done.
Our Oakland elected officials continue to spout nice statements like "Public Safety is our Number One priority!" But, when one looks at the City of Oakland budget, and the staffing of our Fire and Police departments, the truth is in the budget: public safety is a very diminished, impoverished priority. Don't be fooled about the percentage of the budget that is utilized to say things like "OPD and OFD take up 65% of the budget", which really sounds like a lot of percentage of our collective monies. But, what isn't said is that for over thirty years the monies left in the General Fund have been deeply reduced, with special interests and 'committed' monies being extracted from the General Fund. This allows the vast majority of the monies in the Oakland budget to be 'protected' from being used for the services that directly mean something to the citizens of Oakland. More than .7 Billion dollars a year never see the light of day in the General Fund. 65% of less than 45% is not a lot of money, and certainly does not add up to funding the Number One Priority of the City of Oakland.
What this all boils down to is how to run a major city with a crippled, inadequate, poorly managed, stressed from too much overtime departmental staff that is forced to run around like a chicken with it's head cut off (sorry, Chief Whent, just a matter of not enough staff) playing whack-a-mole with only the absolute major crimes, and letting all the rest of the crimes simply unattended. Shame on the elected officials of Oakland, and shame on the Oakland voters who continue to put up with their elected officials who allow the situation to continue, and even worsen over time.
Jim Dexter, former resident of Oakland
The mis-representations about the Riders Case Court Judge's consent decree are legion, including the comments posted by Eric Tremont
The mis-representations about the Riders Case Court Judge's consent decree are legion, including the comments posted by Eric Tremont. The consent decree outlines the way ALL police forces should be operated and managed, and is an outstandingly positive document. Three Oakland Police Chiefs in a row have publically stated that the consent decree should be the way the City of Oakland's police force should be operated: no qualifications from any of the three (Tucker, Batts, Jordan). I have read the decree in detail, and found it to be a model for what I would like from a police force. It is easy to be critical of the millions of dollars spent on oversight, but, if you look at the situation objectively, the majority amount of oversight monies being spent on the consent decree is a result of foot-dragging or outright ignoring the decree mandates, performed by all three Police Chiefs and the deeply involved City Attorney's office, the Mayor's office, and the eight City Council Members. IF the Police Department had been actively reformed to the decree mandates after two years from the date of the decree, millions of dollars would have been saved, AND our police force would be far better than it is today. If you doubt the facts above, read the decree in detail, and then review the decree oversight quarterly reports that show in great detail the lack of follow-through by all members of the City staff concerned. Judge Thelton Henderson should be lauded for both the initial work on the consent decree, and for his dedicated follow-through that is both objective and supportive to the City of Oakland. Reducing the required intended culture change in OPD as only addressing meaningless 'paperwork and other process violations' is a deep and abiding falsehood, one that needs rebuttal in public. That Eric Tremont could have read the decree and the quarterly reports and come up with his opinions boggles my mind. I am not 'defending' the consent decree, only appreciating the good will and clarity of goals that are within the document.
I believe in the NSA, and I believe even stronger in implementing the NSA well. I want the NSA used as a model for the future of OPD. In addition, I've learned to trust Santana. IF there was a political leak of the accusations, it did not come from Santana. Finally, Santana is quite smart enough to ignore the problems with Warshaw, and to read into whatever report he/they produce with objectivity; and I've never seen HER play politics. She plays the game right.
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