Oakland, East Palo Alto and Vallejo were among 39 California communities to receive nearly $20 million in federal grants to hire new police officers, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today. As part of the 2013 Community Oriented Policing Services or “COPS” hiring program, the city of Oakland was awarded over $4.5 million to add up to 10 new officers to its police force, the highest amount given to any police agency this year, according to the justice department. “This is a great day for the people of Oakland, who deserve and need a stronger police force,” Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement.
Oakland was forced to lay off dozens of officers since 2008 due to budget cuts, and the Police Department has since worked to replenish its ranks through officer union concessions, federal grants and gradual re-hiring as the city’s finances improved. Oakland police Interim Chief Sean Whent said that a new class of police academy cadets is scheduled to graduate on Friday, only the second class to graduate in more than four years.
“The Oakland Police Department is thankful for the grant funds given to us by the federal government,” Whent said. Other Bay Area communities to receive funds through the 2013 COPS program were Alameda County, which received $2.2 million for eight sheriff’s deputies, Vallejo, which received $1.06 million for four officers, and the cities of Hayward and East Palo Alto, which each received $250,000 for two new officers. Communities that were awarded COPS hiring grants were selected based on fiscal need, local crime rates and community policing plans, according to the DOJ.