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Oakland to Add California Highway Patrol Officers to Police Force

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Jennifer Inez Ward/Oakland Local

Oakland plan to temporarily fill gaps in its police force by borrowing officers from the California Highway Patrol.

The Oakland Police Department has moved one step closer to temporarily filling its depleted force.

On Friday, city officials said at a press conference that they've received permission from Gov. Jerry Brown to tap the California Highway Patrol for officers, possibly beginning as early as this week.

How much this action will cost is unclear. CHP Officer Sam Morgan said after the press conference that the state agency envisions between eight and 20 of its officers being deployed in Oakland.

CHP officials said that they can't say how much money it will charge the city, but the law enforcement division's average salary for officers is roughly $55,000. In contrast, the average salary, excluding overtime and benefits, of an Oakland police officer is $87,672.

The use of CHP officers is in addition to possibly bringing in additional officers from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office to work with the Oakland Police Department. In both cases, outside officers will be used on a temporary basis; possibly until cadets from the OPD training academies are ready to hit the streets.

Meanwhile, Sgt. J.D. Nelson, from the county sheriff's office, said that if it enters into an agreement with Oakland, it expects the city to pay roughly $1,000 per officer, per shift. That amount includes overtime and other fees. Oakland police say they've been struggling against the depletion of its rank. Current sworn staffing levels have been reduced from 830 in January 2009 to 640 in 2012.

The city also is spending huge amounts to deal with its officer shortage. OPD officers are now required to work mandatory overtime. As a result, Oakland spent $18.6 million in overtime this fiscal year. Last fiscal year, the city paid out $13.5 million. The money for overtime came out of the city's general purpose fund.

The results of the staffing shortage also can be seen in response times by the department. OPD averages 14.8 minutes to respond to a call. The next highest response time in the state is Anaheim, which takes 7.9 minutes to respond to a call.

According to a recent report, OPD's average response time to an urgent, but non-emergency calls was 71 minutes.

Both CPH and the sheriff's office regularly work with Oakland police on a variety of law enforcement actions.

CHP said it expects its primary role to be traffic stop where many potential arrests can happen including possession of drugs, parole violation and illegal gun possessions.

City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf met separately with Sheriff Gregory J. Ahern and Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan about the possible additions of officers. She said that the city needs to reach out to other agencies for help.

"Everyone agrees that we can use the extra help and these are locally-trained officers that can work on the streets immediately," she said.

If Alameda County sheriff officers are used, it also will need the approval of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association. In previous reports, OPOA has said it hasn't developed a position on the matter. Calls and emails Oakland Local made to the office were not returned.

"I'm hopeful that Oakland officers will support this" Schaaf said. "Because right now they are being overworked and spread thin."

 

Source: Oakland Local [http://m.oaklandlocal.com/article/oakland-police-add-officers-california-highway-patrol-save-costs]

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Oakland Local is a non-profit news site that provides daily news and analysis by and for Oakland residents and leads digital trainings and events for low-income and under-served communities.

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