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Oakland City Administrator Dan Lindheim said talks aimed at averting looming layoffs for 80 of the city's 776 police officers have broken off, and the layoffs will take effect by the end of the day today.
The City Council voted June 25 to eliminate 80 police officer positions to help close the city's $32.5 million funding gap.
But city officials had been meeting with the police union's leaders for more than a month to try to get the union to avoid layoffs by having officers contribute 9 percent of the cost of their retirement benefits. Other city employees contribute that amount of their pension costs.
The union agreed to have officers contribute 9 percent of their pension costs but in return asked for a guarantee that no officers hired before March 21, 2009, when four officers were killed by a wanted parolee, be laid off for the next three years. The city said it couldn't make such a guarantee because of its precarious budget situation.
Lindheim said the two sides exchanged "a flurry of offers" during lengthy meetings on Monday and exchanged more offers and counteroffers today.
But he said city leaders believe that the union "essentially didn't respond" to the city's last offer.
Oakland Police Officers Association President Dom Arotzarena wasn't immediately available for comment.
Police Chief Anthony Batts said on Monday that if the layoffs weren't averted, police would focus on responding to 911 calls and won't respond to many non-emergency calls.
Instead, people calling about certain incidents not considered life-threatening will be directed to an online system called "cop logic" to file a police report. Among a list of 44 crimes in that category are burglary, theft, embezzlement, extortion, vandalism, identity theft and illegal dumping.
Lindheim said he hopes the police union will work with the city to place measures on the November ballot that would raise money to help the city hire more police officers.
Bay City News