OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – The Oakland City Council passed two hiring proposals to address OPD’s officer retention problem on Tuesday.
One proposal was by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and the other, proposed by Oakland City Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao.
Both hiring plans seek to add more cops but have different ways of getting there.
The primary difference, Thao’s proposal aims at attracting lateral officer transfers from across the country by offering a generous $50,000 signing bonus.
The hiring plan proposed by Mayor Libby Schaaf and backed by councilmembers Loren Taylor and Treva Reid would add 60 more officers by adjusting the city budget to accommodate two additional police academies and unfreezing 20-police positions in the current city budget.
These proposals to hire more cops come in the wake of one of Oakland’s most violent years in recent memories.
Marked by 129-homicides at the time of this council meeting, while simultaneously the police department’s staffing level has dropped to 676-officers.
Two officers below the voter-approved Measure-Z, which uses parcel tax dollars to fund public safety. There was a heated debate centered on the subject of hiring lateral officers from across the country.
Mayor Libby Schaaf released the following statement:
“I want to thank the six Councilmembers — Nikki Fortunato Bas, Dan Kalb, Rebecca Kaplan, Treva Reid, Loren Taylor and Sheng Thao — who voted today to keep our promise to the voters. Today’s action will allow us to carry out a holistic vision of public safety to address the tragic surge in crime and violence in our city by increasing Oakland’s police force by 60 more officers.
Our residents spoke up today and their voices were heard. They spoke up for a comprehensive approach to public safety — one that includes prevention, intervention, and addressing crime’s root causes, as well as an adequately staffed police department.”
Oakland City Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao released the following statement:
“Our city is facing a public safety crisis and our ability to respond to and investigate violent crimes has been deeply hampered due to a staffing crisis in the Police Department. While I believe that the solution to violent crime is deeper investments in our communities and in non-police interrupters, we must have adequate staffing in our police department to ensure we can remain Measure Z compliant and increase our abysmal clearance rate.
“This is why I introduced a plan to begin a national recruitment effort for quality officers. This plan is bold and disruptive and recognizes that waiting until 2023 for new recruits to finish training will not fill the vacancies we have now. I am thrilled the City Council recognized the need for this plan and voted to pass it today and look forward to working out new incentive programs at the December 21st Council meeting.”
“This policy does not touch one cent of the historic $18 million in investments we made into violence interruption programs and moving forward I am committed to investing more dollars into the Department of Violence Prevention and other critical, non-police responses to crime. Furthermore, I am committed to continuing this holistic response to violent crime by working to bring more dollars into affordable and transitional housing, healthcare, childcare, and other strong economic investments into our city.
“From delayed 911 responses, lack of crossing guards, inadequate traffic engineers, and gaps in firefighter coverage, the Administration continues to struggle to hire adequate staff across the board. My office is working diligently to fill these critical roles with passionate public servants who love this city as much as I do.”