General Crime

* Oakland City Council Approves Police Department Budget

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The Oakland City Council voted 7-1 tonight to approve a $414 million general fund budget for fiscal 2010 that closes an $83 million shortfall through a series of tough measures, including laying off more than 60 employees. Another measure is reducing compensation by 10 percent to all city departments, including the Police Department.  It remains to be seen, however, whether the $13.4 million reduction in the Police Department’s personnel budget will actually come from a reduction in officers’ salaries or from layoffs. Oakland Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan said immediately after tonight’s vote that the department’s services won’t be impacted for the next few months but layoffs and service reductions are possible this fall if a series of funding steps don’t work out in the department’s favor. Jordan said it’s “business as usual now” but the outlook could be different in a few months. The city’s contract with police officers calls for them to get a 4 percent salary increase beginning on Wednesday. However, the Oakland Police Officers’ Association has agreed to put off the pay increases until July 18 in order to allow more time for talks with the city about restructuring the contract. Jordan said if the union doesn’t make concessions the department may be forced to lay off officers. Another important issue is Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums’ application for $23 million in funding for each of the next three years from the federal Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) Hiring Recovery Program. Dellums has said that if the city gets the funds it won’t have to lay off any of its 810 police officers. A decision on the federal funding is expected in late July.  Jordan warned that Oakland can’t count on getting the full $23 million a year that Dellums is hoping to receive. During the meeting, City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente also said the city can’t expect to get the full amount it wants from the COPS program. De La Fuente said the City Council will likely have to meet again in the coming months to make further cuts because state officials, who face their own financial problems, probably will make additional cuts to cities, including Oakland.”Tonight is just the beginning of biding our time for the next few months,” De La Fuente said. City Councilwoman Pat Kernighan said there were “no good choices” in making cuts to the budget but she said the cuts were necessary because of the city’s difficult financial situation and the prospect of further cuts by the state in the near future. Councilwoman Desley Brooks cast the lone vote against the budget.

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