Getting more police officers on the street

You know how Oakland politicians are constantly talking about how we can improve public safety by moving sworn officers out of desk jobs and putting them on the street? People running for office, people in office, people in office and running for re-election…pretty much everyone says this all the time. It’s one of those things that I get really sick of hearing. Like, yes, that sounds like a good idea, so why don’t you just do it already and stop talking about it. (Just like Ignacio with his constant harping about GPS and 311.)

In this case, if you watch enough meetings, you probably already have a fairly clear idea that it’s not the Council’s fault. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard at Council or Public Safety Committee meetings over the last year variations on “What’s going on with that civilianization we told you to do and you’ve been saying you’re going to do?” and of course the answer is always different and always some kind of weird excuse that conflicts with the answer from last time they asked.

Anyway, at next Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting, we’ll finally get an update (PDF) on what’s going on with all that. The basic idea is that since sworn police officers cost so much more than civilian personnel, we should take those officers out of jobs that don’t require a sworn police officer and put them back on the street, then replace them with a cheaper employee. That way we add to the effective police force without having to increase our total number of officers.

So the department managed to identify a total of 47 positions they think we could do this with.


Problem is, even though adding this kind of staff costs less than adding more sworn officers, it still costs money, and as we all know, that’s something the City isn’t exactly rolling in right now. So in order to complete the switch, the Council’s going to have to find an extra four plus million dollars from somewhere.

Even if we do find the money to fund the effort, don’t expect to see progress too quickly. The implementation timeline provided by OPD would civilianize 15 positions by next summer, with the rest getting a ETA of either 1-2 years or just TBD.


In any case, this is something we’ve been waiting on for a long time, and it’s exciting to see any movement being made toward the goal whatsoever. I look forward to watching a more detailed discussion of the effort on Tuesday. If you’re inclined to tune in, the Public Safety Committee meeting (PDF) starts at 7:30 and you can catch it on KTOP, Oakland Cable Channel 10.

7 thoughts on “Getting more police officers on the street

  1. Ken O

    What’s going on with the Oakland Police Foundation? They have money. Not that much, but they have some and we should pass around the hat, too.

    Maybe an improved NN wb good

  2. ConcernedOakFF

    It is not a good idea to completely civilianize Dispatch positions, especially supervisory position like they recommend.

    Only real Officers have a real idea of how to handle crisis situations.

    When the FD lost their uniformed Dispatchers, many things changed for the worse, and it is obvious that they don’t understand what we do in the field.

  3. Navigator

    They need to take the cops off of Internal Affairs, and fill those positions with civilian employees like John Russo has suggested. Unfortunately, the Police Union is against this. Also, how come we had a long lull in homicides in part of September, October, and November, but NOW, that we’ve increased the police force to an all time high, we are seeing the homicides spike again in late November and now in early December? Where are the “more police equals a safer city” proponents?

    The fact is, that the Oakland Police Department is a dysfunctional self-serving enterprise which will suck the Oakland budget dry while having little affect on the crime rate. This department has only 300 patrol officers out of a force of over 800. What in the world are the other 500 officers doing? This is absolutely ludicrous! This is a department which according to a recent article in the East Bay Express, doesn’t make any arrests, doesn’t apprehend murderers, allows the city to be destroyed by rampant vandalism, while at the same time, milking the city out of 13 million per year in overtime. What a boondoggle!

    Unfortunately, Oakland taxpayers are on the hook for this horrible ineffective police department. This department needs to be reorganized from the top down. The culture of the Oakland Police Department needs to change to a service oriented institution dedicated to the betterment of the city of Oakland. What we have now, is an institution which closes ranks and circles the wagons in an ” us vs them” mentality. “Them” being any inquisitive citizen of Oakland concerned about their city and how this police department is going about reducing crime.

  4. Wow

    no no no …more police does not mean safety. There are points where im like yay they’ve got it then there are points when i know you guys are privaleged white folks calling for armed forces to keep them low income folks in check.

    OPD doesn’t improve Oakland and when does more cops mean better public safety you need to be more organized on prevention and adequate decent living spaces, proper education, community resources where the community is involved and meeting their neighbors. Are you guys old or just homeowners and merchants who dont know how to talk to the community you want money from and tax incentives

  5. Max Allstadt

    Um, I’m a carpenter who lives at San Pablo and 24th. My Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council is mostly black and chaired by a black woman. Guess what? There are plenty of folks in the hood that want more cops. There’s room for strategy changes and reform, but the OPD is still undermanned for the area and population it serves.

  6. Patrick

    Uh, “Wow”. Taken together, your suggestions for the city sound more like a threat than a solution.

  7. Max Allstadt

    I don’t know if I’d call it a threat. More a recital of dogma that has been proven not to work.