"We can post an overtime sign-up to see if we garner any interest. However, our patrol officers are currently being forced over on multiple 16-18 hours shifts each week, on forced overtime (minimum staffing)," wrote Capt. Timothy Simmons.
Simmons told Chevron the department had already posted overtime opportunities for officers on several other projects.
"All of these assignments routinely go unfilled because officers are tapped out. We will do our best," wrote Simmons.
In an interview with KQED on Friday, Simmons said that before that exchange, Chevron had arranged for Richmond police officers to be ready in case there was trouble outside the refinery in the weeks leading up to the walkout. Those officers were paid overtime for being on call, but were never sent to the facility.
But since then, Chevron has called Richmond police frequently.
"There's calls for service almost every day down there," Simmons said.
The company has been asking police to clear roads so trucks can drive in and out of the facility. On occasion, officers are asked to respond to complaints of loud music on the picket line. On several occasions, Chevron has reported that one of its managers or contract workers has been assaulted, though police have never been able to substantiate those allegations and have made no arrests.
Simmons says the refinery calls have exacerbated pressure on a department that's suffering from a shortage of officers.
"This is the leanest I have ever seen it," said Simmons, a 13-year veteran of the department. "We are reaching critical mass staffing levels," he added, saying that last week, all officers were ordered to sign up for overtime shifts.
"They [Chevron] are a major customer in our city. And we're getting called down there often. It takes away from other things that that beat officer could be doing," Simmons said.
Emails: Nonunion workers stayed inside refinery for over a week
Jackson, the Chevron security official, asked police agencies for help on April 1 in a message that revealed that non-striking refinery workers had been sleeping at the facility since the walkout began.
"The refinery is re-posturing itself by now allowing the initial workforce to go home for a day or two. This workforce, just like myself, were considered essential workers and have been living within the refinery property since March 20," Jackson wrote.
"I hope to have an orderly transition during that shift change period and having marked units assisting in that endeavor would be great," he wrote.
The use of law enforcement by companies involved in strikes is very much a part of our nation's labor history.
"Strikes with large numbers of workers are more likely to see companies bring in the 'rent-a-cops' than smaller ones," said Fred Glass, an instructor in labor and community studies at City College of San Francisco.
The police response to Bay Area labor disputes has sometimes led to historic episodes of violence. In a 1934 strike, longshore workers shut down the port of San Francisco. Police opened fire on strikers, killing two workers and triggering a general strike in the city. During Oakland's general strike in 1946, police beat strikers on the picket line.
"Most strikes are quite law-abiding, so the use of private security or off-duty police — or for that matter on-duty police — is usually more meant to intimidate than actually protect anything," said Glass, author of "From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement."
A top local United Steelworkers union official says the police arrangements at Chevron's Richmond refinery paint unionized striking workers unfairly as lawbreakers.
"The only reason I think you would have all that is to intimidate our people. But our people are not doing anything wrong. They're conducting themselves well on the picket lines," said B.K. White, vice president of USW Local 5, in an interview.
'A jurisdiction miles away from San Pablo'
Chevron's security manager for the most part seemed happy with the work San Pablo officers did but sent an email to the department's Capt. Brian Bubar on April 6, highlighting an interaction he did not like.
Jackson said Chevron firefighters in the area of the picketers told him an unidentified San Pablo police officer expressed support for the striking workers.
"I understand that officers, of which you know I was one for 33 years, can have an opinion," Jackson wrote. "There's a time and place to express that opinion. This wasn't one of them."
Bubar wrote back, telling Jackson he understood and agreed. He emphasized that his officers were there to "keep the peace" and said that there had been several incidents they'd worked to deescalate involving "both sides."
"I understand the challenges of the situation and the officers are doing their best not to get involved politically," Bubar wrote. "I hope Chevron staff understands that challenge as we're trying to navigate through this in a jurisdiction miles away from San Pablo."
San Pablo Police Chief Raman says his officers were deployed for five days, from April 4 to April 8, and that there are no plans to redeploy officers.
Chevron defends deployments, councilmember challenges them
Chevron says the police deployments are aimed at managing traffic into and out of the refinery.
"We've appreciated the help of some local off-duty officers," said refinery spokesperson Linsi Crain.
The company, on a webpage titled "USW Local 5 Strike at Chevron Richmond," says hiring local police officers is a regular occurrence and that the Richmond and San Pablo officers "encourage safe and smooth movement through gates at times of increased in and out flow of our workforce, supplies and products."
Richmond Councilmember Jimenez — a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, which backs USW Local 5 — says it's concerning the city would agree to put police officers on standby for Chevron at a time when the department is having a tough time responding to local 911 calls.
"This is a problem in terms of how the Richmond Police Department decides what's more important to deploy services," Jimenez said in an interview.
Richmond police have yet to outline a full accounting of how much Chevron paid for the department's officers to be on standby before the strike, but the price tag is expected to be in the thousands.
San Pablo police sent an invoice recently to Chevron for $27,500 for the work its officers did the first week of April, according to Chief Raman.