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The California Highway Patrol announced today that it will deploy officers to help the understaffed Oakland Police Department as early as next week. CHP and Oakland police officials weren’t available for comment on the details of the arrangement, which is called “Operation Impact.” But Oakland City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf said her understanding is that the CHP will assign officers to Oakland two days a week to focus on violence suppression, at no cost to the city. The CHP said in a press release that the additional officers will help Oakland police increase patrols in high-crime areas and conduct additional traffic-enforcement operations. The CHP, which also is providing assistance to the Stockton Police Department, said it is meeting with both departments to finalize specific details of the assistance.
Schaaf said California Gov. Jerry Brown approved the assistance after Bishop Bob Jackson of the Acts Full Gospel Church in East Oakland put him on the spot in front of his large congregation last Sunday to ask Brown for help in solving Oakland’s crime problem. Brown was at the church to ask for support for Proposition 30, a tax measure that’s on the Nov. 6 ballot. Jackson “has a vocal constituency that’s pleading for assistance” in combating crime in Oakland, Schaaf said. Noting that Brown still has a home in Oakland and served as the city’s mayor for eight years, Schaaf said, “I’m deeply appreciative to the Governor, who is my constituent and former boss.” Schaaf said Oakland police need all the help they can get because the department has shrunk from as many as 837 officers four years ago to about 630 officers now.
A police academy underway now and another academy that will start in January will eventually bring more officers on board but it will take about a year before they will help the department’s staffing level, Schaaf said. Schaaf said the city is in “very productive” talks with Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern to see if his agency can provide deputies to Oakland if the city can find a funding source to pay for them. She said more details will be known in about two weeks. Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said in a prepared statement, “Despite improvements and continued progress, the reality is that the men and women of this department are stretched thin and our city continues to have vast needs for which I am responsible.” Jordan said, “At least in the short-term, this scale between needs and resources is not shifting for the better, but my commitment remains firm. The collaboration and support we have received from the California Highway Patrol is needed and welcome.”
Noting that the CHP has provided assistance to Oakland in the past, Jordan said the two agencies “have proven to be effective partners and I look forward to strengthening our collaboration in renewed and combined service to Oakland.” He said, “I appreciate the help, support, and quick response from Governor Brown.” Schaaf said it’s unclear how long the CHP will be able to assist Oakland police. She said, “We can’t expect it to last forever because clearly the state has its own challenges” in dealing with funding problems. A spokesperson for Brown wasn’t immediately available for comment.
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