OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — The Oakland Police Officers Association says they’re concerned about the dangerous state of affairs of the city’s 911 response.
They say because of inadequate staffing, the police department regularly has nobody to respond to residents’ calls for help.
“The situation in Oakland is dire,” OPOA President Barry Donelan says. “It is a staffing crisis when it comes to police officers being available to respond to call for service.”
So far this year, the Oakland Police Officer’s Association says the department has lost 44 officers.
In 2021 they lost 86, 37 went to other departments. In direct contrast Donelan, says their 911 call volume has went up.
“Go on down there to the radio room on Saturday night as I did,” Donelan said. “Look at the 134 calls that are people, calling for help in this city that go unanswered. Look at the dispatchers. Meet them. See the way they’re overburdened by these calls.”
He says right now, they’re seeing about 2,000 calls for service everyday, and he expects that number to go up in the summer months.
“The leaders of Oakland need to take this seriously,” he explained. “They’ve allowed the police department to shrink down to skeleton levels of staffing. A lot of it has to do with the vilification of police officers. You have no support for cops.”
Donelan says they need more city leaders and community members to support cops. KRON4 asked councilmember Loren Taylor if he agrees with Donelan that police need more support.
“I absolutely agree I think our officers are doing an incredible job under difficult circumstances for the most part and I’m grateful for the work that they do,” Taylor says.
Taylor said that he just did a ridealong with officers just last week.
“I saw first hand how they are dealing with a high volume of calls and trying to work through them under difficult circumstances,” Taylor said. “Waiting hours to get a response is unacceptable and we are implementing many measures to address that.”
He says believes part of the solution is to offload non-violent calls to a non-officer responders. He says they need to hire more people and create a better system for those calls.
“I know it can never happen fast enough but I am grateful for those efforts we are making,” he said.