Police when Jean Quan won council seat, Jan. 2003:
Police when Jean became mayor (Dec. 31, 2010):
Police officers employed May 1, 2013:
Staffing rose when 38 recruits graduated from a police academy in March. By the end of April, however, the department lost eight officers. Several seasoned police left for positions at other agencies. At this rate, two academies a year will result in a net increase of perhaps a dozen officers.
Staffing is so low that the department is unable to respond to entire categories of theft and other crimes, unable to investigate more than a handful of reported crimes, and completely unable to respond to neighborhood crimes when officers are required to work on a riot situation.
Home robberies and burglaries are up. Unreported crimes are up because it has become the obligation of the victim to go online and file a report.
In addition to severe understaffing of sworn officers, the police department has dozens of budgeted but unfilled civilian positions. For example, the City budgeted a mere 12 FTE positions for animal control officers, but only 9.5 positions are filled. No wonder that when you report an untrained nuisance dog in your neighborhood, the negligent dog owner receives a letter from Animal Control, not an inspection of the pet and his situation.
Oakland needs at least 1,100 police officers
Oakland – a city plagued by homicides, armed robberies, auto theft and vandalism, as well as continual disruption from boom cars, sideshows, and groups of street dealers – has half a police department, compared to most major cities. The following chart shows the number of police officers per 10,000 residents. You'll find Oakland at the bottom of the list.
KRON TV talks to ORPN on police shortage (Click image for 2 min. .WMV video)
Source for other cities: U.S. Dept. of Justice at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/csllea04.htm. Oakland calculated from 740 officers for 410,000 residents. Figures are from 2004, but some cities, especially Los Angeles, are now in the middle of multiyear projects to add more police after several years of moderate decline.
Are most other cities wasting money on a police force twice the size they need? We don't think so. Oakland has the problem. The city simply does not have enough police to maintain public safety. That's why Oakland ranks as the fourth most dangerous city in the country. That's why a culture of disruption and disrespect dominates our neighborhoods.
How does Oakland compare with other California cities? San Francisco has 60 percent more officers. Los Angeles has one-third more police officers per population than Oakland.
Most shocking of all, if we calculate the number of violent crimes that each officer has to deal with on average, Oakland is at the top of the list for California's ten largest cities by a huge margin.
per sworn FTE
|Poverty rate (%)|
|Oakland||7.6 ||19 |
|Los Angeles||4.8 ||22 |
|Fresno||4.5 ||26 |
|Santa Ana||4.5 ||20 |
|Sacramento||4.4 ||20 |
|Long Beach||3.7 ||23 |
|San Diego||3.5 ||15 |
|Anaheim||3.5 ||14 |
|San Francisco||2.6 ||11 |
|San Jose||2.5 ||6 |
Source: Oakland Police Department Overtime Assessment, April 17, 2005,
commissioned by Oakland City Council, pages 8, 10. Figures are for 2003.
What a list for Oakland to be number one! Partly, it is because the city has so much violent crime; partly it is because Oakland police are so severely understaffed.
Notice, too, that Oakland's ostrich crowd (the leaders who ignore our crisis in public safety while prattling forever about social programs) cannot say that poverty is the root cause of our problem. Oakland is in the middle of the list as far as poverty goes, but far above all the other cities for violent crimes laid on each police officer.
For more on police understaffing, browse our archives.