The Oakland Police Department today began its first police academy since the City Council voted to lay off 80 officers in July 2010 in a budget-cutting move. The academy consists of 10 trainees who were previously slated to become Oakland police officers before the layoffs were announced. The officers have all graduated from the Alameda County Sheriff’s police academy and have met state peace officer training standards.
The 10 trainees are part of a total of 25 new officers that the Oakland Police Department is in the process of bringing on board to beef up its current staffing level of 645 officers, a much smaller total than the 830 officers it had two years ago. Oakland is able to hire the new officers because it recently received a $10.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Police Service (COPS) program to hire a total of 25 new officers.
In addition to the 10 trainees, four former Oakland police officers who were laid off last year will be reinstated. The department also has openings for 11 officers who have been trained by other police departments and want to transfer to Oakland. The department has received about 60 lateral applications for positions, according to police spokeswoman Johnna Watson. Once all 25 of the newly-funded positions are filled the department will have 670 officers, Watson said.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement, “Today marks another step towards reducing crime in our city.” Quan said hiring the new officers will help the city station officers near middle schools in the 100 blocks in Oakland where she said 90 percent of the city’s violence crime occurs. Part of the job of officers who are stationed near the schools will be to get to know school children and make sure they get to and from school safely, Quan said.
Police Chief Howard Jordan said in a statement, “This is a great day in Oakland. Hiring more police officers will definitely help this department carry out its mission of making Oakland a safer place.” Jordan said, “I look forward to greeting the new officers and their contributions to serving our community and department. This is a very exciting time for the city and the organization.”
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