Oakland

Oakland Councilwoman Proposes Plan to Hire More Officers Following Recent Violence

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The president of the city council rolled out a proposal to immediately hire more cops. But many in this community still think that’s not the answer. Robert Handa reports.

The city of Oakland is trying to tackle how they can stop the recent violence.

On Thursday, Oakland City Council president Sheng Thao proposed a hiring plan to immediately fill 60 vacant police officer positions.

While Thao wants to open at least one new police academy, her aim is to recruit veteran officers with a $50,000 hiring bonus and an additional $20,000 for local recruits.

“These officers or what we call 'lateral officers' are not 'rookies,'” she said. “Unlike graduates from traditional academies, these officers are already experienced ad ready to hit the streets as an active patrol officer.”

Thao's proposal has the support of some high-profile community members, including pastor Billy Dixon Jr. of the cease fire program.

The alarming rise in violent crime in Oakland has people in every neighborhood of the city not only concerned, but angry. NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai spoke to Mayor Libby Schaaf about what needs to happen to move Oakland forward.

Dixon pointed out the city needs more officers immediately not only to stop the violence but also to prevent the loss of crucial measure Z funding.

“Right across the street from my church. We’ve had several people murdered. Just right across the street,” he said.

The agency formed to find non-police solutions, Oakland’s Department Of Violence Prevention held a virtual public briefing on its efforts, which focus on community engagement, helping victims and reducing retaliation.

The DVP has responded to almost 300 incidents since June. DVP chief Guillermo Cespedes did not endorse more police hiring but emphasized “enforcement” is still a key element.

“You cannot prevent your way out of it exclusively. You cannot arrest your way out of it exclusively. You need a balanced approach to do both,” he said.

The city council will start dealing with that balance at its meeting next Tuesday.