Oakland Looking to Boost Police Force Through Academies, Incentives for Transfers

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Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said he is hiring.

At a Tuesday morning news conference, Armstrong said he will consider hiring lateral transfers to stem the loss of officers on the force in addition to training more officers through the academy.

The city's Police Department has fewer than 678 officers, which means Oakland is restricted from collecting a portion of Measure Z funds, unless the City Council approves an exemption to the requirement. Measure Z, a parcel tax approved in 2014 by city voters, provides some funding for other important city services such as fire services and violence prevention.

Armstrong said his department has 676 officers currently. He thanked Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for her words Monday about increasing the size of the police force and canceling police cuts scheduled for July, amid historic violence in the city. Homicides so far in Oakland this year total 127.

"Our city needs a comprehensive + holistic approach to public safety, and adequate police staffing is part of it," Schaaf said on Monday on Twitter.

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong held a news conference Tuesday to address the recent uptick in violent crime and the 127th homicide in the city over the holiday weekend. He also discussed the shortage of police officers and next steps for the department.

"This department is really short of resources," Armstrong said in an interview in mid-November.

On Tuesday, he said current staffing is at its lowest point in years and well below the 740 officers at this time last year.

City spokeswoman Karen Boyd said city administrators will be bringing a resolution to the City Council in December to get an exemption to Measure Z requirements. Exemptions can be granted for several reasons.

City administrators will argue that police staffing has fallen unexpectedly below the level required by Measure Z despite the adoption and implementation of a hiring plan for the Police Department.

Boyd said city officials will be seeking the exemption from the City Council simply "due to the fact that we've hired fewer and lost more officers than anticipated."

Oakland's police academy will graduate a class in December and those graduates will go on patrol immediately, Armstrong said.

Another academy of 39 started Nov. 15. Graduation is in April and Armstrong said he hopes he will retain all 39.

He said he also will be asking the City Council to provide incentives to hire officers as lateral transfers into the Oakland Police Department.

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