OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Oakland residents may have noticed a steady police presence at some big box stores.
At least that is the idea. It started with a popular hardware store being the first to hire Oakland police.
Now, other major retailers are following their lead.
Major retailers are turning to the Oakland Police Department, paying overtime for off-duty officers to secure their businesses.
“Walgreens, Target over on Broadway at 27th street and the Home Depot with more to come,” Noel Gallo said.
Two of those businesses, Home Depot and Walgreens are in city councilmember Noel Gallo’s Fruitvale District.
“They were living right on the parking lot, breaking-in, breaking-out. Grandma and grandpa try to go in there and buy their medicine or whatever they need at Walgreens. They come out they’re being assaulted and robbed,” Gallo said.
He says Home Depot was the first business to hire off-duty cops.
Gallo says it was a stop measure preventing the big-box retailer from leaving the city and taking hundreds of jobs with them.
“These are neighborhood people. These are people who are getting an opportunity when an entry-level job that can help them pay their rent and take care of their families. I don’t want to lose that because who is going to pay for the services we do provide. They generate taxes, millions and millions of dollars,” Gallo said.
“I have mixed feelings. It’s mostly a bad idea,” Pamela Drake said.
Pamela Drake is a former Oakland businesswoman and current member of the Coalition for Police Accountability.
She says she believes armed police make retailers and customers less safe.
“So now we have armed security in our stores, which is a whole-nother level of issues. In terms of having more guns on the streets and, I don’t care who has them. Having more guns on the street in Oakland is always problematic,” Drake said.
The retailers cover the officer’s pay, time-and-a-half, which is just over $90 an hour.
OPD sent KRON4 a statement that reads in part:
“The officers are working outside of their normal shifts on their days off. They are not under the direction or supervision of the store’s management. The officers must abide by all rules of the department and are supervised by Oakland Police Department Command Staff.”
Retailers hiring off-duty cops is not just an Oakland phenomenon.
San Francisco police confirmed businesses in their city can hire officers on their days off as well.