OPD says we’re on track for 803. I’m not so sure.

On February 25, 2008, a representative of the Oakland Police Department, who called himself a recruiting specialist, when describing the accelerated police recruitment plan, the one we just funded with $7.7 million, told the Measure Y Oversight Committee that they had a “drop dead deadline” of March 31st to have 300 applicants in background in order to fully staff the two police academies beginning on May 19th.

Okay, so in case you don’t remember, I was hell-bent against this funding allocation. I said that it would not get us to 803 by the end of the year, that it would create serious deficit problems down the road, and that it was exceedingly irresponsible of the City Council to approve the request.

To recap – reaching 803 officers by the end of the year is entirely predicated on us filling two police academies beginning on May 19th and finishing this November. Now, the officers that graduate those academies will not be on the streets by the end of the year, they’ll still have to go through our 4 month long field training program. Since we don’t have enough field training officers to train them, they will be assigned to desk jobs until field trainers are available. (By the way, the 28 officers that we just graduated from the academy last month are not currently on the street or being trained. They, too, are sitting around waiting for fields trainers to be available.) The field trainer issue is a whole other mess, which I’ll try to give its own post soon.

Anyway, these two academies that start in May – one is a regular Oakland Police Department academy, and the other was supposed to be held at the Alameda County Sheriff’s academy. For whatever reason, the Sheriff has now decided that we can’t use their academy after all, and so now we’re going to be holding the second academy at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office academy. Fine. The plan is to fill both academies with 50 recruits, and hope we have an incredibly low attrition rate.

I said in January that it would be impossible to fill those academies, but the department insisted otherwise, and as you all know, the Council went ahead and approved their $7.7 million request. Which brings me back to that “drop dead deadline” of March 31st to have 300 applicants who have passed all three exams – the POST written exam, the oral board interview, and the physical agility test – and are currently in the background check process.

As you can imagine, I immediately tried to find out as soon as March 31st arrived how many people were in background – did they have their 300? I was sure they wouldn’t, but I wanted to see the number. I sent inquiries to the police department, the Mayor’s office, OPRM, everybody I could think of, and could not get a single response, even after asking multiple times. Desperate for an answer, I finally turned to my surrogate Councilmember, Pat Kernighan, and asked her to ask the question for me at a Public Safety Committee meeting when they received the recruiting update. She very kindly obliged.

The response? (This happened on April 8, 2008.) “We have 13 people hired. We have 35 conditional job offers out there. We have 101 backgrounds that are out there, and those will be getting fed through our system, starting this week and next week.”

Bizarrely, when she followed up on the question and asked “So, you are confident you will have [both those academies] filled?”, the response was affirmative, and Chief Wayne Tucker said several times at the same meeting that we will be at 803 officers by the end of the year. This, of course, doesn’t gel at all with the statements they made when selling the police recruitment plan. We won’t have to wait much longer to find out, in any case.

31 thoughts on “OPD says we’re on track for 803. I’m not so sure.

  1. Ken O.

    There are two ways to change Oakland at this point:

    1) vote the bums out (vote for McCullough, Sullivan, etc); recall Dellums; ask City Council and Mayor to replace Chief Tucker with an effective chief, to be selected within 3 months from WITHIN OPD

    2) boycott WalMart, Target, gas stations, and every other company selling cheap slave labor goods made in China, India, etc. Start buying and selling only WITHIN Oakland, or at least, California. This goes for banking and food, too. Thrift stores, set up new factories which creates jobs. Export to other California cities. Void out NAFTA, leave WTO, stop spending $1 Trillion dollars per year on the US Military which doesn’t create anything of value and leads to job losses. Close the border which is also leading to a large supply of “illegal” labor which restaurant and hotel chains LOVE. By all means allow legal immigration.

    I know we can pull off #1. #2, we can’t educate people enough, we are too diffuse and the powers-that-be too concentrated, so we’ll have to wait instead for gas prices to make imports more expensive (can’t depend on tariffs from Federal level) and thus create local manufacturing again. (ie, cling to our imperial rags)

    So, let’s do at least part 1 and start on part 2!


  2. Ken O.

    the point of #1 is to create a stable business climate

    the point of #2 is to bring back the economic carrot and start improving our citizens’ standard of living again (everything except the excessive motoring around in supersized cars, that is)

    banking locally is as important as buying and eating locally.

    local banks invest in the community — as much as BofA and Wells (and Target Corp.) try to make a splash with some token grants. big tapeworm banks like Wachovia and Citi and BofA launder drug money for starters, and remove too much capital from our local economy.

    using big banks like these and WaMu is no better than handing over all our cash to the OPEC countries for oil and gasoline

    they re-invest in Oakland FAR LESS than the owners of Bakesale Betty’s, Scout’s and any other small business. and it makes sense. We know the names of these businesses’ owners. Do we know personally the owners and shareholders of Washington Mutual, Bank of America, Wells Fargo? Do those anonymous people have any sympathy for us if we were to really need a loan?

    That is why we should bank with local Credit Unions.

    Boycott Big Tapeworm Banks(TM)!

  3. Mike Hardy

    Not sure about the larger community / economic issues brought up by Ken O, but have we really gotten to a point where people with such an amazing inability to project the current into the future have no accountability? Because I can’t get 300 out of 100-something no matter how hard I try. And I’m waiting (in that “who doesn’t love a train wreck?” way) to see more info on the field training officer thing. They’re all going to be sitting at desk jobs anyway? Who cares! They’re *police*! Doesn’t matter if the point is actual policing, I guess…

  4. ConcernedOakFF

    To those that say it is ridiculous that these officers are sitting waiting for FTO’s to train them, think of it this way:

    1) Do you want people FORCED to train new officers, even if hey have NO desire, NO experiance themselves, and may be incompetent? Or would you rather wait for REAL FTO’s to become available?

    2) The department is ALREADY forcing many of these FTO’s to pass trainee’s that have failed the department’s field training programs, or they are shifting them around from one FTO to another to find one that will pass them. Yeah…great…real safe, yes?

    3) Political pressure like this is EXACTLY what hurts public safety. Proper training, staffing and a natural ramp up in staffing is good, a political push to get bodies out there is NOT good for anybody.

  5. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    I’m shaking my head at the 803 by year end figure. Why make impossible promises that you simply can’t keep. Let’s just say we’re going to have the same number that we have now. Between retirements, disability, and new hires, we should have the same number. If the cadets aren’t getting in their street time, then there’s even less possibility of us staying at the same number we have today.

    I love the “surrogate” council member comment! I saw her in our neighborhood on Saturday with a customer and we both commented that we had seen her more in our neighborhood than our own council member in the last two years. Kernighan has certainly been to more community functions.

    I once said to Aimee Allison that if she was serious, she should move to our district, because I’d like to see both her and Kernighan on Council…

  6. Ken O.

    I predict we’ll have a recall of Mayor Dellums in 2009, a gaseous vaccum which would then be filled in by someone WORSE, Senator “blingy 22″ rimz, candy apple red government-paid-for dodge charger” Perata and his machine.

    Who we need as Mayor, is perhaps whoever wins the at-large seat, or why not borrow the green mayor from Richmond whatever her name is.

    I hear all this gossip of how Dellums is working in the background. I’d love to give him benefit of the doubt. If he’s just not into being a cult-like “media figure” what ARE he and his office up to?

    On JOBS and CRIME? These are the two top priorities for Oakland! After that, water supply/efficiency; local food; and transportation/land use.

    The best mayor for Oakland would be someone who’s lived here for a while and truly understands the evils of “free trade” and the international corporate-banking global elite behind it. They are behind the US spending itself into Third World status as well, by not upkeeping infrastructure. And they are behind both factions of our Vichy Government.

    A good mayor of Oakland would publicly ask us all to bank with Oakland-based banks and credit unions, not with global chains. He would ask Oakland banks and credit unions to give preferred low-interest rates to Oakland residents and Oakland businesses.

    A good mayor of Oakland would fire Chief Tucker immediately and hire someone from the ranks, and then make sure the Oakland Police Foundation worked with that someone.

    A good mayor of Oakland would set up a “green enterprise zone” and get rid of the payroll tax for “clean tech/green tech” businesses, like San Francisco has already done.

    A good mayor of Oakland would make sure that the “Green Jobs Corps” will start training Oaklanders by mid-June, when high school lets out. Doubt that will happen.

    A good mayor of Oakland would rescind the illegal IRS “income tax” which hurts the poorest the most, and institute local carbon and gas (yes, gas) taxes instead, with other cities in our region. Proceeds would go toward…

    A good mayor of Oakland would start the way for installing electric rail transit up and down Broadway Ave above-ground, along the old key-route lines, employing MANY currently un- and under-employed Oaklanders. This public works project would benefit many future generations.

    A good mayor of Oakland with the mayors of Emeryville and Berkeley would immediately start committing us to Community Choice Aggregation, which is to say, start a public utility run NOT for profit, but for the public good.
    Other cities have public utilities: Riverside, Sacramento come to mind. Those cities have far more renewable energy capacity than PG&E will provide. I wonder why!

    And, for doing all this great work, the good mayor of Oakland would probably be shot.

  7. Ken O.

    I meant lower loan rates, not savings rates. They should increase their savings rates for locals.

  8. Andy Kleiber

    Putting people through the academy and not having FTO seem like a waste of time – like getting the cart in front of the horse. I assume that the academy is to prepare people to be police officers. If after the acacdemy, they have to sit at desks doing god knows what, they will most likely loose some of the knowledge they gained at the academy.

    Whenever I have had a class and not had the opportunity to apply the knowledge, I have found that I have lost much of the knowledge.

    $7.7 million could have hired some FTO.

    Ken O – take some of that long post energy and start the recall effort.

  9. C.

    While I personally agree that 803 is not a realistic staffing goal in the near-term, there are other ways to eke out body count, such as delay retirements (currently approx. five a month) and dramatically increase lateral hiring. I don’t know if OPD is executing either of these strategies, but I can’t imagine them not being considered.

  10. ConcernedOakFF


    You cannot just “hire” an FTO. They are experienced officers from within the OPD that serve as 1 on 1 trainers all shift long for months, and must spend time documenting, mentoring, and counseling trainee officers. It is very time intensive, and not for everybody.

    The big problem is that they are forcing people to become FTO’s.

    Just think if they forced you to become a teacher, tripled your work load, and told you, pass them or we will just send them to someone else.

    Then realize that you have to trust your life to these same people, and it is in your best interest to make sure they know their stuff, or fail them and make sure that they cannot hurt another officer if they were to pass without problems.

    Not easy.

  11. jb


    It’s now apparently official that the Traffic Division and the Crime Reduction Teams (and possibly the Gang Unit and other specialized units) will be re-assigned to Patrol for a year in order to serve as Field Training Officers. What this means is that the specialized officers who accomplish a great deal of the traffic control and crime control in Oakland will instead turn their attention to training Santa Clara Academy neophytes. While no one will be “forced” to become an FTO, all will be “strongly encouraged” — and further incentivized by the prospect of an even longer stint in Patrol should only a small fraction “volunteer”.

    So here we have Tucker’s solution to the crime wave: stop fighting crime for a year so that Dellums’ ill-considered (and impossible) promise of 803 by year’s end can appear to be fulfilled.

    Just another way for Tucker to buy time until February, 2010, when his CalPERS retirement vests.

  12. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Two positive OPD comments to make! (sorry, not really related to the post)

    First, the hullabaloo at Sierra Condos at 3rd & Oak on Friday night was a success for OPD in that the woman being held had only a minor problem (cut?). For the drama to take so long and block off so many streets was a precaution OPD felt necessary due to the shot fired by the perp. Kudos for that event ending relatively peacefully with his surrender just after 4am.

    Second, I’ve heard that the person who robbed me in early March has been caught – although it appears that he committed a number of other similar robberies in Dublin and Pleasanton. And here I doubted that my use of video was any help. Turns out it was a help, along with video and photos from other stores that were robbed.


  13. ConcernedOakFF


    great. Wonderful way to boost morale by blackmailing people into doing what you want. Gotta love our leaders in Public Safety in this lovely city.

  14. Californio

    The discussion here on who to replace these clowns with is a propos, even if this isn’t quite the right forum to do it on. The ONLY person I can think of who would do a decent job as Mayor and who has visibility is Chip Johnson. Yes, he’s a journalist, but maybe he could be convinced to run? Who else is there? Not Perata, not Ignacio… Last–does anyone know of a forum where these ideas can be discussed? This city needs some new faces in its government, but how do we find them?

  15. ConcernedOakFF

    I would say a big resounding NOOOOOOOO to Mr. Johnson, especially after his last inflammatory articles regarding public safety pay….

  16. californio

    Chip Johnson (SF Chron columnist) is holding these peoples’ feet to the fire. He’s the only one I know of with that visibility who’s doing so.

    I guess the important question is how do we discuss the issue. Let’s say you oust Dellums. Who replaces him? From my perspective, it’s none of the above, and I’d like to be able to get behind someone for Mayor. How can we discuss this sort of thing, which seems like about the most important issue facing Oakland right now?

  17. Max Allstadt

    I don’t think you have to oust Dellums. I don’t think he’ll run again. He’ll be 74 or 75 at the next election, and nearly 80 by the end of his next term.

    I really don’t think Chip Johnson would be able to win. Journalists usually make too many enemies to get involved in politics.

    I hear Doug Boxer might want to run. Ignacio will probably run again. I can’t think of anybody else who would be viable. Don Perata will not only never get my vote, if he runs I’ll work hard to highlight his most embarrassing moments. No way.

    How about we repeal term limits and get Brown back?

  18. ConcernedOakFF

    I will put money on the fact that Sen. Perata will be our next mayor.

    Not a statement for, against or otherwise, just a premonition….

  19. Max Allstadt

    We’re on a tangent for sure. But that happens here. While we’re on it, I’d vote for Too Short over Perata.

  20. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Ugh, if Perata were to become mayor, I would leave Oakland. And no thanks, I’ll pass on Ig as well.

    Boxer’s name has come up more than a few times… and that’s an interesting thought. But would you want your first major political office to be one where you could so easily fail? I wouldn’t! It’s not a case where you’re set up for anything other than failure. You might make inroads, but it will take many years for Oakland to be a success. There’s too much working against it, namely history.

    The idea of Chip Johnson for Mayor is humorous. No thanks. He’s just as divisive as Dellums has turned out to be.

    This city needs a cheerleader that can bring folks together and rally morale. Someone who can be on the streets every day getting out and talking to the people and being visable to this city. Not someone who runs off to DC looking for money. You hire that person to be in DC looking for money.

  21. josh abrams

    That person you hire to be in DC looking for money was Ron Dellums – I wonder if he did such a horrible job for his clients then as he is doing for Oakland now. The one thing everyone agreed on was that Dellums would bring in the pork, but I haven’t seen much of anything.

  22. James H. Robinson

    What is wrong with Perata being mayor? I’m generally leery of legislators moving into the executive branch, but is there something particularly wrong with Perata? Also, I wasn’t here for the Brown administration how was he as mayor?

  23. James H. Robinson

    It’s not the mayor’s job to bring in Federal pork. That’s a job for a Senator or Congressman. The mayor’s job is to keep is ass in Oakland and run the city.

  24. V Smoothe Post author

    1. I think Chip Johnson for Mayor is a bad idea.
    2. I would prefer that Don Perata not run for Mayor.
    3. I was confident, and tried to explain to people 2 years ago, that Ron Dellums would not be bringing any pork to Oakland.
    4. I don’t think Doug Boxer is an appropriate candidate for Mayor.
    5. At this point, it would be entirely pointless to try to recall Dellums. Just wait two years and elect a new Mayor. Dellums can’t do anything to hurt Oakland without the City Council’s consent.
    6. I already have my pick for the next Mayor of Oakland, but I’m going to keep my mouth shut until we’re a little bit closer to the time when that discussion is relevant.

  25. Chris Kidd

    I’ve gotta say, most of the concerns voiced about problems with the city and mayor would indicate that De La Fuente’s the guy for you.

    Think about it: cheerleader for business and development investment, favors new construction/increased housing market, tougher on crime than the current administration and most others on city council, is a visible “on-the-street” pressence kind of guy (unlike Dellums, he lets you know about every single thing he does), has great raport with Jerry Brown (likely gubernatorial candidate) to maybe grease things a little better on the state level.

    Now, I’m not trying to give him a ringing endorsement or anything, I’m just saying he seems to match up pretty well to most of the gripes lodged on this blog. I suppose some of his biggest deterents are how polarizing a character he can be(in that those who don’t like him HATE him), and that many people are less than thrilled with some of his methods.

    Just my two cents.

  26. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Ig is polarizing and no, I could not vote for Ig. He seems to have a problem with strong women and comes off condescending. I also have the perception that he’s a crook. My perception, my reality.

    I didn’t want to vote for any of the three last time around. Wish I had written in Mickey Mouse in hindsight. I’d love to join the recall Dellums campaign if there was one, but it would only take Council’s focus away (even more) from solving real problems. Probably best to just wait until next time around at this point.

  27. Max Allstadt

    Why not Perata? He’s an ideologue, a grandstander, and he runs a power machine.

    Ideologue = rational ideas outside his frame of thought will be dismissed and never considered.
    Grandstander = more likely to work on getting attention than results
    Power Machine = he’s beholden to too many powerful people

    Doug Boxer? I don’t know him well enough to make a call on whether or not he’d be worthy. All I was saying was that I’d heard rumors, or rather I’d heart dto510 say that he was considering a run.

    I’m still educating myself about De La Fuente. His staff was super responsive to me, and was willing to hear me make long explanations about my little mission, and they seemed to really consider what I had to say, and offer constructive friendly criticism where needed. I haven’t really read up on his alleged crookedness in any source other than the Express, which I’m rapidly losing trust for. There are too many sides to that story for me to sift through. I’ll wait for the election to read more about it. Still, clean or not, he seems to get things done.

    Frankly, I’d like Brown back, but I also want two term limits put on the council. Inconsistent philosophy from uncle Max? you bet.

  28. V Smoothe Post author

    I think Ignacio De La Fuente would be an awesome Mayor, and I volunteered for his campaign the last time around. But after losing twice, I think it’s time for him to accept that it just isn’t going to happen and let someone else have a shot.

    Joanna –

    What makes you say he has a problem with strong women? His staff is entirely composed of awesome smart women.