Oakland reduced to hiring private security

This is going to be short today, because I’m a slacker and put off my taxes until the last minute.

It’s a shame, because I think this is a pretty big deal. It isn’t news to anyone that Oakland has a serious police staffing problem or that we have a ever more serious crime problem. People wonder what the City is doing about it. The Consent to Search proposal has generated a lot of attention, but I haven’t seen anything yet about a much more important anti-crime initiative.

Tonight, the City Council will approve something we’re calling the Central City East Commercial Security Pilot Program. The 18 month project will be funded from $175,000 of redevelopment funds and $35,000 from Neighborhood Service Delivery Funds. You can read the staff reports on the program here (PDF!) and here (PDF!).

Part of the program involves providing crime prevention training to property owners and merchants. But most of the money will be used to pay for 4 armed private security officers to patrol the commercial districts five days a week. They will be patrolling Foothill Boulevard between 23rd and 73d, MacArthur Boulevard between 73rd and 77th, MacArthur Boulevard between 88th and the San Leandro border, Bancroft between 66th and 73rd, and International between 23rd and the San Leandro border.

I’m really glad we’re doing this. I have been advocating for the use of redevelopment funds to improve public safety for a while now. We do it a little bit, but we really should be doing more. There appears to be little or no political will within the Council to push for it. Anyway, I wanted to highlight this initiative for two reasons. First, it is incredibly depressing that our police staffing problem is so dire that we have been reduced to outsourcing neighborhood patrols. Second, this is a smart and appropriate temporary measure that the City is taking to combat crime, and people should know about it.

50 thoughts on “Oakland reduced to hiring private security

  1. Kevin Cook

    So, is Blackwater or Dyncorp going to get the contract?

    I realize that this blog generally disdains analogies between national and local policy, but I see little difference in principle between hiring unregulated mercenaries to work in Iraq and putting armed private security on the streets of Oakland. Exactly what qualifications do you need to put on a uniform, strap on a 9 mm, and enforce the law? Oh wait, the same ones that supposedly make you qualified to be a cop. Almost by definition, armed private security in this country (and here the mercenary analogy breaks down) simply aren’t qualified to be police. I’d wager that nearly all the rent-a-cops they put out there want to get on the real force, but simply can’t. So, why not just lower the bar for entry to the force?

    Even better, why not push for an open carry law in Oakland as armed private security are likely distinguished from your average legal handgun owner by some lame 8 hour class that anyone with a high school diploma could drool through. I’m willing to live with a state monopoly on sanctioned violence as long as the state maintains its monopoly instead of farming it out to guns for hire. At that point, I’ll police myself.

    Moreover, if part of the barrier to recruiting police is the perceived lack of respect OPD get from the community i.e. the unending shit cops take from every clown they deal with on the street, what makes anyone think that random dude with a gun and a radio is really going to go out of his way to intervene in a crime?

    I know, crime is so bad that anything within the law must be attempted in order to make the streets safer. Well, if it’s “smart” for somebody who likely is unqualified to be real police to be getting paid to walk around the streets of Oakland with gun on the assumption that their mere presence will deter crime then I think it’s time to change the law so anyone with a gun can carry it around and deter crime for free. Otherwise, I object to the state granting some unsworn but paid posse police powers over me or anyone else, including the degenerate criminals whom we all naively assume will be the only ones to bear the burden of this policy.

  2. V Smoothe Post author

    The contract will be awarded through a competitive RFP process, and the private security will work with the OPD Area Captains . Commercial districts and neighborhood organizations that have the funds are already hiring private security, so this isn’t new for Oakland. It seems unfair that only wealthy neighborhoods should have the benefit of supplemental safety resources. I would be just as happy with unarmed patrols, since the benefit of walking officers is mostly their deterrent effect on crime.

  3. James H. Robinson

    As someone who lives on MacArthur between 88th and the San Leandro border, I think this is great news! As V Smoothe said, some neighborhood organizations and most large office buildings already have private security. Oakland’s CEDA has already invested money in improving certain areas. Why not add some security, however slight, to help get some return on the investment? At the very least, they can help supplement the security at the Foothill Square Plaza shopping center.

  4. Max Allstadt

    I think we should thank the wealthy neighborhoods for hiring private security. We should thank them by taking OPD patrols away from them. It’s so kind of those rich people to contribute to Oakland’s security pool. Now that Trestle Glen, for instance, has a security jeep on rotation, they clearly don’t need OPD to patrol regularly. How generous of them to cover their own cost of policing like that! Those unneeded OPD patrols can be sent to the flatlands where we actually need them.

    It’s a really sensible solution. I mean even though the hills and Trestle Glen have enormous wealth and organized voters, why should they bring that power to bear in order to help the whole city when they can just look out for themselves?

  5. RDC

    Max, please explain to me the “sensible” part of your solution. You are advocating that the rich people should lose their OPD patrols just for the fact that they are rich? When I win the lottery I’m gonna go buy me a tank and park it in my front yard and put up a sign that says “No thanks OPD, I’ve got it handled.”

    The rich people of the hills, or so you call them, are not contributing to Oakland’s security pool, they are protecting themselves. Since OPD is far more concerned with your neighborhood, they don’t get as much time to patrol the dangerous streets of Trestle Glen. V Smoothe is right, a private security patrol is a theft deterrent not a replacement for the PD. And while you have gotten my underwear in knots, I have to ask why you think that the hillside residents don’t need or deserve the police? Since they were able to afford a nice house somehow they aren’t contributing citizens of Oakland? I’m sure they buy their food and gas in Oakland but how dare they accumulate wealth!

    I don’t think anyone in Oakland should lose their right to the services of the OPD. And on the flipside, why shouldn’t the Trestle Glen folks be up in arms that all of their tax dollars go towards policing an area that really doesn’t care that they get services? So much attention is paid to the crime stricken areas of Oakland, which it should don’t get me wrong, but all of Oakland deserves attention. Why so much hate for gentrification and the wealthy of Oakland?

  6. dto510

    Max, I think that if you weren’t so busy hatin’, you’d find that the Hills and above-580 neighborhoods like Rockridge are putting enormous pressure on the city to hire more police. Since the city isn’t responding, they are using their own resources to hire security, just as less wealthy neighborhoods (like several downtown) are organizing CBDs in the hopes of supplementing their security. While it’s sad that people have to dig into their own pockets to provide essential city services, that should be supported not discouraged. Clearly using CCE funds to provide security to some of Oakland’s struggling commercial districts was inspired by the CBDs, and it’s an appropriate and responsive use of redevelopment funds.

    Also, they do take patrols away from the Hills to bring them places like Ghost Town. That’s one of the reasons Rockridge hired security last year.

  7. josh abrams

    with all due respect to Kevin Cook – please think before you speak out of your @**. It takes a fairly large number of training hours to get your card card, gun permit, and OC/Baton permits (these are all the things that a armed security guard would have). Are they as “good” as police? No, but they are also not tasked with investigating crime, and while they can make ‘citizens arrest’ just like you or I, they do not have the same duty of care that an OPD officer would have to the public (which isn’t much of one, as the Supreme Court has ruled police have not duty to protect individual citizens). If I had to choose, there would be well qualified and trained police everywhere we need them – but in all honesty that ain’t happening anytime soon.

    To the folks who are unhappy with private security patrols – you’ve gone off of the progressive deep-end. Simply because the city provides a police force does not mean we all have to roll over for criminals if the police can’t or won’t protect us – Rockridge Merchants hired a guy to clean the sidewalks, does this mean that Oakland PWA should stop cleaning the streets in the area? clearly not.

  8. Max Allstadt

    In a nutshell, taxation in this town, and in this state, is not nearly progressive enough. Nothing wrong with accumulating wealth, to an extent. But the more wealth you have to protect, the more you should pay to protect it.

    Plus, as far as I’m concerned, above a certain level of wealth, keeping any more makes you a bad person. Call me a communist if you want. If somebody gets their H3 stolen in the hills, maybe they should have bought a civic and put the remainder into a non-profit that provides educational opportunities which in turn prevent car theft.

  9. Kevin Cook


    No real respect is due me–this is the internet, right? If you can’t talk out of your ass in the comments section of a blog, which has always struck me as cyber-equivalent of a bar, then where can you? In a stroke of negative hyperbole, I speculated that you could carry a gun as a private security guard with as little as 8 hrs of training. You suggested it was a “fairly large number.” A quick search reveals that you need 40 hours of initial training to get the power to arrest certificate–basic unarmed security guard. You then need 14 hours of firearms training and range qualification in the caliber you wish to carry, plus the baton training which seems to vary but let’s call it eight. So, that’s 62 hours of training to go out on the street and enforce the law backed up with the handgun of your choice. Hmmm, having sat through other occupational training geared for all comers, I for one am not reassured. However, let’s say all of this is completely adequate. Well, my point is why can I as a private citizen not carry an unconcealed gun around after 62 hours of training? (with a yearly requalification at the range). If it’s ok for private citizens and the state to hire other private citizens to carry around guns and enforce the law then I would like to be able to do the same thing for free. I’m not sure this qualifies as a progressive position or a gun nut one.

    Max, point taken on progressive taxation, but I’m pretty sure that a mid-nineties civic is stolen far more often than a new H3.

  10. dto510

    Once again, way too much hatin’, Max. People in the Hills don’t drive Hummers, they are Volvo-driving latte-drinking liberals. Prop 13 is deeply regressive, and there’s just nothing Oakland can do about that. The state tax regime, on the other hand, is perhaps too progressive, relying heavily on volatile upper-upper-income taxes. Demonizing your fellow citizens and contributing to divisiveness is no way to approach solving our crime problem.

    Also, people in the HIlls vote at sharply higher rates than in the flats. Support from Hills residents is vital to the passage of any tax measure. Punitive approaches to “accumulating wealth” is exactly what’s led to the disinvestment and crumbling communities that feed violence. Non-profit organizations, which are generously funded in Oakland, push their own narrow agendas through lobbying and media relations, contributing to the paralysis at City Hall. This entire discussion is started by the city using redevelopment funds (generated from market-rate housing construction, or “wealth”) to provide security to poor neighborhoods who can’t afford it on their own. I fail to see how this is inspiring a divisive and wrong-headed argument.

  11. Max Allstadt

    You probably have a point about the civic. But my point is that I feel for the guy who loses the civic. I have no sympathy for say, a chubby middle-aged white man drives through Oakland in a candy apple red mustang with 22 inch rims and gets carjacked.

    Josh- I am very encouraged to see someone else in Oakland who supports responsible gun ownership. Yes, regulate the hell out of it. Better yet, start out by issuing carry permits only to people over 35, and regulate the hell out of it. But frankly, having witnessed two gunfights between thug jackasses, I don’t see why they get to be armed and I can’t be, especially if I get the kind of training you’re talking about.

  12. Max Allstadt

    In august, I got to smell the burning body of an 89 year-old woman who’d been and stabbed and bludgeoned to death, and then had her house set alight, all because her nephew needed money for drugs. It happened not 200 feet from my door. When something like that happens on Skyline, let me know. I’ll call Chief Tucker myself and beg him to send more resources up there. Until then, let’s keep the degrees of peril in our respective neighborhoods in perspective. Crime in Rockridge is keeping the neighborhood stuck in a state of being rather pleasant, when it could be growing into near utopia. Crime in ghosttown is a little more pressing. So forgive me if I get a little emotional.

    As far as using redevelopment funds goes, I never had a problem with that. I’d rather those funds go to hire real cops though. My issue is more with the people you correctly indicate are needed to pass tax measures. As long as they don’t pass them, let them buy their own security, and send me their OPD patrols.

    One thing that may have emerged from this which could well be productive is this:
    Clearly the amount of training and equipment needed to do simple patrolling in stable neighborhoods is a lot less than what it takes to police scarier areas. Perhaps the OPD should have two tiers of training. Simple patrolling could be done by people who get paid less and cost less to train. Save the money for paying people with more hardcore tasks.

  13. Californio

    Gotta love the ideologues peeping out from all corners. Now, does that H3 represent part of the Base or the Superstructure? Folks, we have a city to run, not a revolutionary utopia to coax into being.

    I don’t have any problem with the City or anyone else hiring private cops. One way to get past the Y logjam might be to privately bill a group of 25 to 100 neighbors for private security services. Just open up the Yellow Pages, get an estimate, and divide by the number of neighbors who feel it’s worth it. It might even help to just buy a white pickup, put some kind of a shield sticker on both doors, and have neighbors take turns driving around the neighborhood. I’ve seen this in rural communities as part of the Neighborhood Watch program, and it seems to work as a deterrent.

    Anyway, ideological awareness is great for keeping your focus in life, but I don’t see how it helps in solving the problems at hand.

  14. Moschops

    I would just like to know who is liable if and when the rent-a-cops screw up? Will the buck stop with their company or will it percolate up to the City for hiring them in the first place. We really don’t want another Riders case…

    Hopefully this is a good way to get more eyes and hopefully feet on the street while we wait for the game of catch-up OPD is doing with training. Also I sure hope someone will be doing analysis to show if this actually has an effect on crime in those areas.

  15. Californio


    That’s a good question for John Russo’s office. Has he chimed in on this proposal?

  16. Becks

    Wow – I didn’t realize how controversial an issue this would be. Seriously, I just stopped by to set the record straight – Don’t listen to V Smoothe! She is NOT a slacker, maybe a procrastinator, but definitely not a slacker :)

  17. concernedoakff

    The city already outsourced much of the patrol/security of the public housing to a private company called “Intervention Agency”. A whole lot of good that has done!

    They often DO think they are cops as well.

    All we need is one of these security agents to get into a gun battle in the middle of international somewhere in the Fruitvale…that would REALLY help Oakland’s bottom line..

  18. Max Allstadt

    FF, that’s one of the things that troubles me about this. I’ve seen private security work well doing things like keeping the riffraff out of my local Arco station, but there’s a limit.

    A for-profit company running security in public housing is as scary to me as private prisons.

    As for your hypothetical gun battle, I’m not so sure that’s anything more than an outside risk. I’m a lot more concerned about these guys being abusive and then being protected by the corporate veil than I am about a shootout. I mean let’s face it, unless some total nutjob slips into one of these jobs, our risk is quite the opposite. Private security, faced with gun toting thugs, is a lot more likely to run away. I think they’re also more likely to be corrupted. Its about money. If you’re paid less than OPD, and honored less, you’re more motivated to look out for yourself instead of your city.

  19. James H. Robinson

    I think we need whatever help we can get. If business can hire security for office buildings, why can’t business improvement districts do the same for their interests?

  20. Josh Abrams

    Yes, I am pro-private gun ownership… its a shame more people in Oakland aren’t. As of 2006 there were less than 200 concealed carry permits issued in Alameda County — the rich and connected can protect themselves (Don Perata had one, Jerry Brown’s old aide had one) but if I applied for one it would get rejected.

    If Oakland cared about its citizens, it would allow us to protect ourselves when the police can’t or won’t. At this point, we have to hire a security guard or patrol company – perhaps one day we can cut out the middle man.

    Exit Question: Could you go through the training, become a licensed security guard (working for a company you own) and hire your company to provide 24/7/365 executive protection for you? That would be hot.

  21. Max Allstadt

    Even if your exit question’s answer is “yes”, Josh, it’s way too much of a hassle to be any good for anybody.

    And before people go crazy and call us gun nuts, let’s remind them to look up crime statistics from other cities and states. Contrast pre-concealed carry statistics with post. Numbers don’t lie. Crime goes down. A topic for another thread.

    I’m going to back-pedal a bit on my snarky remarks earlier. Nobody deserves to be robbed, exactly. Private security raises a whole other host of ethical questions though. For instance, we can expect private security to hassle “undesireables” who aren’t breaking any laws. What do we do when that happens? Didn’t Piedmont get sued when their cops did something like that a few years back? If downtown private security pushes non-criminal homeless people out of business areas, where will they end up? Likely in the residential neighborhoods to the west, which have enough on their hands already. Tricky.

  22. avis

    Just an idea, but wouldn’t it make more sense to elect someone like Charlie Pine and help him work to beef up the police force than trying to hire all these different security companies? Personally, I am not against gun ownership, as long as it is responsible gun ownership by non-criminals. Unfortunately, in my below 580 neighborhood the only folks with guns are the criminals. Behind me is a house full of Oaktown Crips and they have more guns than you can imagine, not to mention tons of crack and methamphetamine, not a good combination.

    Also, to Max Allstadt, I have heard you lament the fact that you voted for Ron Dellums, but then say you may vote for Frank Rose. I have had about 5 yrs exposure now to Frank Rose and he is a really nice guy. However, I think he would be about as effective a councilman as Dellums is mayor. Just wanted to say that so you don’t keep making the same mistake over and over, which is pretty easy to do in this strange town.

    I first moved to Oakland in the mid 80′s and I must say it is really nice to see all the newcomers who care so much and spend so much time trying to make our town a better place to live. THANK YOU ALL

  23. V Smoothe Post author

    avis –

    The private security is, in theory, a temporary measure. Augmenting the police force won’t happen overnight, no matter who is on the Council. The hiring process is long, and as you know, we’ve had serious problems with recruitment. Even if the recruitment problems evaporated, it would still take years to reach 1100. If someone entered the police academy tomorrow, they would not be a fully prepared officer until June of 2009. One advantage of private security is that at $25-$27/hr, it’s a whole lot cheaper than a cop.

  24. ConcernedOakFF

    V- Maybe the question is then, how effective will they be?

    Is it worth 25 dollars an hour for a S.O. that my be ineffective, or marginally so, or is it better to have a 70 dollar an hour cop payed overtime to sit with a car dedicated to the area, not running calls for service, keeping a visible presence.

    Many departments also allow their officers to work part-time security jobs in their PD uniforms. We should allow that, and push the businesses to hire them.

  25. V Smoothe Post author

    Well, the whole reason we’re doing this is because we don’t have the police (who, BTW, cost a lot more than $70/hour) to provide walking patrols in the area. So the alternative isn’t paying more to have an officer in the area, it’s having what we have now – nothing.

  26. Robert

    V – Private security is as likely to be temporary as the lighting and landscape tax has turned out to be. Be that as it may…

    I am actually too lazy to go check the voting records, but if memory serves it is the ‘safe’ hills that have supported the increased funding to increase the number of police on patrol. I know that I have. And I think that we would continue to do so if the money actually went to hire more officers. It is unfortunate that the hill neighborhoods and commercial areas feel the need to hire their own security, but it is simply because OPD concentrates most of its activities in the flats, and does not have enough routine presence in these areas. OPD has already done what Max advocates, neglecting the hills for the crime ridden flats.

    The unfortunate reality is that any conceivable increase in the number of police will not end up having a huge impact on crime in the flatlands. As long as civilians are reluctant to aid the police in investigation of crimes in their community, the perpetrators will go free. The police cannot solve most crimes without information from the public. I grew up in the sixties, so I know all about not trusting the man. But then we were mostly worried about being arrested for a legal activity, or an activity we though should be legal. Nowadays, “don’t snitch” is protecting serious, dangerous criminals.

  27. V Smoothe Post author

    Robert –

    Since there is no new assessment on taxpayers to provide the private security officers, I don’t think comparisons to the LLAD are appropriate. Otherwise, I agree with most of your comment.

  28. avis

    V Smoothie, thank you for your response, but I must respectfully disagree with you to some extent. I am a recruiter with 20+ yrs experience so I do know a bit about this subject. I believe one of the main reasons that Oakand is having such trouble recruiting cops is Oakalnd’s insistence that new police officers must come from Oakland. While I am not at all against hiring Oakland residents this constraint will not help us to increase the OPD in a hurry. I also question the caliber of the recruiters that the city has hired. I have been told that Deborah Edgerly’s daughter has been hired to recruit officers after she failed to pass the Police Academy for the 4th time. Could someone please tell me how this qualifies her to be a recruiter?

    Oakland police recruiters should by now be talking to ALL the 22 cops that the city of Vallejo is letting go because of their financial problems. At least half of these local and already trained Vallejo officers should be coming to Oakland. Even a mediocre recruiter could accomplish that. With all the cities in California experiencing budget shortfalls it should be very easy to recruit more cops right now. Oakland is probably spending more to beef up its police force than any other California city at this point. Additionally, we should be scouring the snow belt states and recruiting officers from there. Look at the great Police Chief the city of Richmond got from North Dakota and he didn’t need to go through any police academy.

    I have found in the recruiting industry that where there is a will, there is usually a way. In January of 2007 I phoned the office of the mayor and offered to volunteer one day every week to assist them in recruiting more OPD…they never responded. I called and reiterated my offer on 2 more occasions, I have yet to hear any response from the mayor. My city council rep told me “maybe he can’t call you back because of union rules”. HUH??? What would my offer to volunteer have to do with a union since I would not be a paid employee?

    Since the time I made the call to the city I have assisted a local non-profit in recruiting several nurses, social workers and physicians including 101 other candidates they hired in a 6 month period that I found for them. If you have any knowledge of the recruiting markets you know it is no harder to recruit a nurse or doctor than it is to recruit a cop. But then I have the will and know the way, unlike the city of Oakland.

  29. Joanna

    Like Robert, I’m concerned that the temporary plan won’t be so temporary. (And don’t get me started on the lighting & landscape tax! I want some pretty lighting and landscaping in my area!)

    We’ve considered the additional security in our neighborhood several times and OPD supports the idea at local NCPC meetings. But the big concern is that we’re paying tax dollars for protection that we’re only marginally getting. I, for one (probably in the minority), would pay more taxes if I thought the money was being wisely spent. I’m not seeing that at the moment. Maybe with a new council rep, things will improve. If we do pay for it ourselves, Moschops mentions liability, and that has come up at every meeting. We’ve never gotten an answer from the City.

    Lastly, someone else mentioned the quality of rent-a-cops. Some may be better than others, I don’t know. The ones I’ve seen at Best Buy looked like they might be doing their own criminal thing on the side…. and 62 hours is certainly not enough training. On the other hand, if having someone drive or walk around an area will prevent crime, then maybe it’s worth it. That’s why I think this test thing is a good idea, if it has been well planned.

  30. Max Allstadt

    As long as a cheap walking patrol presence is bound by the same standards as OPD in terms of conduct, and as long as the limitations of corporate liability don’t shield abusive private security workers, I don’t see a problem with them in a limited role. But that’s only if the city is hiring them.

    Any armed security force in this city must be ultimately under the command of the government, and beholden to the people. If we get to the point where homeowners associations are directing private armed security on public streets, we’re going to be in big trouble. That could degenerate into very territorial and problematic situations. We’re talking libertarian distopia.

    Private police and fire departments were eliminated from American cities for the most part over a hundred years ago, and for good reason. The incident between two fire departments that you see dramatized in “Gangs of New York” is historically accurate. Chaos like that happened a lot. That’s why we don’t do it anymore.

  31. ConcernedOakFF

    Avis –

    If you look on the city’s intranet, a person can now receive “up to 1,000 dollars” for recruiting a police officer.

    Why volunteer when you can bleed the city dry (j/k)

  32. V Smoothe Post author

    avis –

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to. We don’t have any requirement that new police officers come from Oakland. In fact, part of the department’s current recruitment strategies is targeting the central valley.

    I do agree that OPD could use their recruitment budget more effectively, though (I’ve written about that previously).

  33. Robert

    V -
    Maybe avis meant the Oakland First hiring policy that you mentioned a couple of months ago.

  34. V Smoothe Post author

    Robert –

    You’re probably right. In case I was unclear before, the hire Oakland first policy is one that I don’t approve of, and I think we should be expanding our recruiting markets. But it doesn’t mean that you have to be an Oakland resident to become an OPD officer. We have no residency requirement.

  35. avis

    To ConcernedOakFF- I make a good living as a recruiter and have no desire to “bleed the city dry”. I think the developers and local politicians already have that covered. I am just at a point in my life where I want to to use my professional expertise to advance something positive, instead of just working for whatever corporation can afford to pay me the most money. However, I don’t think $1000 is an unresonable finders fee for a trained police officer, especially considering the crime situation in Oakland.

    V Smoothie, while Oakland may have changed it’s recruiting message recently you only have to look at recruiting ads from late 2007 to see they were mainly targeting Oakland residents. Even my city council rep said they wanted MOST of the new recruits to be Oakland residents. What they should be doing is conducting a nationwide search. Do we really care where the new cops were born or grew up? I don’t.

    Also, they should be hiring EXPERIENCED recruiters and they should be paying them commission for production only. For instance, recruiters should get paid a percentage of the officer’s first years salary and that commission should be paid only after the cop makes it through the first 30-90 days of the police academy or the first 30-90 days on the job.
    The 22 trained officers that Vallejo is letting go would be a very easy place to start. These officers are already trained, live locally and many may not want to leave the Bay Area to find work. They Vallejo officers are “walking placements” for Oakland recruiters or they should be. I would love to know how many of these officers have been contacted by recruiters from Oakland. Anyone know?

  36. V Smoothe Post author

    I don’t know where you live, avis, but some members of the Council are much more devoted to hire Oakland first than others. Jean Quan particularly advocates Oakland only and grow our own programs. I wholeheartedly disagree with this approach, and I hope that the new faces on the Council next year will be more willing to expand recruitment areas. I also agree that we should be working specifically to recruit lateral officers (those that have already been trained in other departments). We should be providing lateral recruits with a huge signing bonus. Since their training costs are significantly smaller than new recruits (since they don’t have to go through the full academy), we could provide them with a generous bonus at little additional cost to the City.

  37. avis

    Yes, V Smoothie, I agree with everything you just said. That would be working smart and effectively, which is all I want from our city’s recruiting dept. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that is what we are going to get. I hope you will keep an eye on the $7million recruiting budget and use your great research skills and contacts to help keep OPD recruiting on the straight and narrow. $7million dollars is a very generous recruiting budget for less than 100 officers, I think we should all expect and demand some results.

    RDC, you made me laugh, thanks. No, I am not running for any office. Just another fed-up Oakland homeowner.

  38. Max Allstadt

    Signing bonuses for laterals, yes. 2 to three year retention bonuses for new trainees. Look again at that chart of the salary rise for NYC cops.

  39. ConcernedOakFF

    Avis –

    I was just kidding about the bleed the city dry comment…Us city workers appreciate any volunteerism to make our workplaces better, especially in Public Safety.

  40. avis


    Thanks for the clarification. I am happy to help my community in any way I can. Looking forward to doing my bit this Saturday for Earth Day and hope to see many folks out doing the same. That is the best thing about Oakland, so many people working together to make this a great place to live.

  41. Jonathan C. Breault

    Certainly in principal one cannot be opposed to private security. The issue is that Oakland is so far gone that private security is not only useless but given the gravity of circumstances and environments into which they will be asked to operate it is rather obvious to me that it is irresponsible for elected officials to put people into high risk places. After, all these are the invidious morons who put the “hiring freeze” into effect in the later 1990′s effectively guaranteeing that Oakland, an extraordinarily high crime city even the, would have a ridiculously small force. Stupid idiots making decisions affecting us all. Even our terrific city attorney, John Russo had a hand in this brain dead scheme. This goof ball private security mumbo jumbo is window dressing on the proverbial pig (or swine ; the very embodiment of so much of Oakland).
    This is just another incarnation of the same wretched bile produced by the Oakland bureuacracy. Obscure the facts. Argue the law. If you don’t know the facts, defend the law. Obfuscate, delay, confuse and above all else pretend to know what the *&%# you’re doing. It seems to work here in Oakland. The most incompetent buffoons known to man are still getting paid to slowly destroy this town.

  42. SF2OAK

    I don’t think Oakland has a choice if private citizens hire private security details and I don’t think citizens want to hire private security details either but feel forced to because clearly OPD cannot do the job for whatever reasons. The recent spate of semi automatic weapon toting thugs robbing restaurants and patrons is a case in point. The weak response by OPD (they’re offering a measly $5,000 reward), the unbelievable non response of the Mayor (where is waldo?) is frankly frightening and his city is going down in flames. A restaurant in Emeryville was hit last night and they didn’t have the surveillance cameras turned on- I will not be dining there in protest. Restaurateurs, business people and just ordinary folks should be outraged at this brazen thuggery and ought to do whatever it takes to put a stop to this. It is amazing that a State Senator gets car jacked in daylight, and there is virtually no real response.

  43. Max Allstadt

    Man I’m tired of hearing the phrase “semi automatic” being bandied about implying some sort of military hardware. Somewhere in the 90% range of all handguns are semi-auto these days. It’s a phrase that anti-gun folks throw around to scare people, and most of them don’t even know what it means. For the record, every sidearm you see on an OPD officer is semi-auto. Don’t visualize an Uzi when you hear that phrase.

    If we had well regulated concealed carry permits in this state, this sort of crap wouldn’t happen as often. Thugs would be afraid of ordinary citizens, and not the other way around. Look up the data on states with right to carry laws. It doesn’t lie.

    As for Don Perata, let’s examine that situation a little more closely: Portly white man driving a shiny new 8mpg mustang with 22 inch rims (that WE paid for, WTF?!). Thug takes the car at gun point. I’m thinking this isn’t what it looks like. My theory: an honest mistake. Perata was driving a pimpmobile. A pimp sees it, mistakenly thinks Perata has stolen HIS car and so he decides to take it back. :->\

    Look, there is a place for common sense gun control, but Perata’s efforts have been exactly the opposite, they placate the hysterical and ignorant and make no-one safer, including himself. The only good gun control in this state is the handgun safety certificate, and it isn’t a tough enough test, frankly.

    Waldo, by the way, is marching to Pretoria to be congratulated for something genuinely noble that has nothing whatsoever to do with his job. Maybe we can greet him at the airport when he comes back and ask him if he’ll give the city back his salary for the days he spent not working for us.

  44. V Smoothe Post author

    I can’t bear to watch the video of the Milano robbery, so I can’t say for certain, but from what people who did watch it told me, I believe the term SF2OAK should have used was assault rifle.

  45. Kevin Cook

    The quality video isn’t that great, but I think the gun pointed at the bartender’s head is a tec-9, or some variation thereof, and in any case it is definitely not an assault rifle. The semi-auto tec-9 looks fearsome with the big clip in it, but unless they had one of the older versions that could be converted to full auto, then that gun isn’t much more dangerous than any other 9 mm handgun.

  46. CK

    Well *gosh* Kevin Cook,

    I’ll have to make sure to look next time to see if it’s a newer model Tec 9. If it is, I’ll be sure to be MUCH less scared. Being that it’s not full auto and all. =P

    But seriously, what is wrong with us when we have to parse definitions about what guns people are using to conduct takeover-style robberies of restaurants all over the city? For the gun advocates on the board, you do your thing. I totally respect that. But I personally consider gun-control to be a lifestyle choice that makes the bay area what it is: a place I want to live in, warts and all. I *know* there are studies that say it reduces crime, and I *know* there are a ton of positive arguments for it. What else I know is that I just don’t want to live in a city where everybody’s packing. I’d rather find alternative solutions, though the road may be a longer and more difficult one to take.

  47. Max Allstadt

    If it was a Tec-9, it was an illegal weapon, which no civilian is permitted to have in CA. The NRA are batshit crazy, but this surveillance video certainly lends credence to their old talking point “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”. Technically, it’s a semi-automatic version of a submachine gun. Effectively, it’s just a 9mm pistol that’s harder to conceal, awkward to aim one handed, and appallingly poorly made and unreliable. The reason it’s called an “Assault Weapon” by Don Perata’s standards is mainly ’cause it looks “scary.” That aside, state laws only affect the law abiding. To hit the criminals even a little, the rules have to be national.

    CK, you already live in a city where all the wrong people are packing. And a country where there are something like 9 guns for every 10 people. The reason I support strictly regulated carry permits is that I apply the same logic to gun prohibition as I do to drug prohibition (I believe both are futile with current resources).

    Permits improve the ratio of armed good guys to armed bad guys. A gun-positive culture also means more young people have respect for weapons and more citizens in general have a rational non-phobic view of them. Respect them, don’t fear them. Understand them, don’t try to pretend they’re not there. Fear is what gives them the totemic power they have in the eyes of young thugs.

    Anyway. More importantly the $5000 is pathetic, and so is out cop to citizen ratio. Maybe there’s a way to set up webcams cheaply in restaurant districts to make it easier to catch these jackasses. Maybe the Oakland Chamber of Commerce can throw down a bigger reward too.

  48. Max Allstadt

    The $5000 reward the OPD offered for info on the restaurant robberies is pathetic.

    The two liquor store employees who responded to being threatened at gunpoint this weekend by shooting back? Not pathetic. There are two thugs in the hospital, one unlikely to survive. And a LOT of publicity. I wonder if we’ll see a slowdown in robberies. Education and economic development is way more important than shooting back, but if the carrot fails, go with the stick.