With public safety consistently a top issue among Oaklanders, many residents are calling for action to reverse long-term understaffing at the Oakland Police Department and the department’s high attrition rate as officers resign or retire.
“Right now, we have 654 sworn officers and 379 civilian police department employees,” said District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo, who chairs the Public Safety Committee
Atpresent, the city is currently funded for a total of 675 sworn officers, according to a report released at this week’s Public Safety Committee meeting.
By the beginning of July, the number of funded officers will increase to 707, though “continuing attrition must be addressed, which means planning and budgeting for future academies in order to maintain authorized staffing at 707 officers,” the report said.
There are no other budgeted police academies after the one that began on April 28 and ends Oct. 31. OPD also must also fill civilian vacancies, including several key positions that are “critical to public safety,” the report said.
OPD’s average monthly attrition rate is 5 percent for sworn and 4.66 percent for civilians. OPD currently has 47 civilian vacancies.
One of the biggest challenges facing OPD is being able to keep its experienced offices, according to Gallo
“Looking five years down the road, over 100 veterans will be retiring,” he said. “That is extremely significant. These are the veteran officers we need to train the younger officers who are coming onto the force.”
“Even though we have these academies, which cost over $3 million each, we keep losing police five to 10 officers per month,” said Gallo.
“The problem we have, half of our police force only has two years or less experience,” said Gallo “That makes a difference. We have to keep the officers we have paid good money to train.”
Gallo is looking to criminal justice program at the Peralta Community College District, which he hopes will encourage more local youth to seek careers in law enforcement.