Saturday, November 15, 2014

Oakland Gets Money for 15 New Cops

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
OAKLAND -- The police department will get 15 new officers in about a year with a $1.87 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, officials announced Wednesday. 

And, as a result of other new hires, the department will have a little over 700 officers by the end of October, Mayor Jean Quan and Police Chief Sean Whent said. 

That's the most officers the department has had since 2010, the mayor said. 

But the department loses about five officers a month to retirements and resignations, Whent said. 

Quan said she would like to see the department with 800 officers. 

"With this grant, these new officers will be dedicated to reducing gun violence," Whent said at an afternoon news conference with Quan. "The new officers will help reduce response times and make the city safer. But we still have a long way to go with violent crime." 

The murder rate in Oakland is on target to be the lowest year-to-date since 1999. As of Wednesday, there have been 56 homicides in the city, which is 19 fewer than the same time last year. 

Armed robberies are down 50 percent, year-to-date, Quan and police department officials added. 

Both Quan and Whent credited Operation Ceasefire, which was launched in Oakland in 2012, for the reduction in murders. The program employs a holistic approach to fighting violent crime by using federal law enforcement and communicating directly with gangs suspected of producing most of the violence in the city. 

Quan said she also believes the murder rate is down because of targeted job creation programs in Oakland's neediest neighborhoods, a slight increase in the number of police on the streets over the past few years and a reorganization in the police department. That reorganization, she said, assigned officers to neighborhood beats that they get to know better than they would if they were patrolling the entire city. 

The federal grants have funded 91 police officers in Oakland, including those announced Wednesday, since 2009, Quan said. 

In addition to Oakland, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and San Leandro received grants from the DOJ's Community Oriented Police Services office. Alameda County got $1 million for eight new officers and San Leandro got $500,000 for four new officers. 

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