For the first time in nearly four years, OPD adds new police officers to its ranks
on December 6, 2011
The Oakland Police Department welcomed ten new officers Monday morning, for the first time since the 2008 layoffs, after being awarded $10 million dollars in funding from the U.S. Department of Justice.
“I have been working so long to bring all of you back here,” Mayor Jean Quan said, addressing the ten officers, who were all prior OPD employees, from a podium in the center of a small room at OPD headquarters. “You are the last of all the people that were laid off in 2008, and you should be proud of that for staying in there.”
The funding to pay for increased policing, a grant from the federal Office of the Community Policing Program, allows OPD to hire 25 new officers. The new hires will fill needs left by those police who were recently assigned to certain high-crime streets and schools as part of Quan’s “100 Block Plan,” an effort aimed at one Oakland area that Quan has said is the site of 92% of the city’s violent crime.
The ten officers introduced Monday completed Alameda County Sheriff’s police academy in 2009 and were scheduled for hire but the lack off funding forced OPD to lay them off before they were able to complete the training. Now, those same officers will finish the process and undergo eight weeks of transitional training before being assigned to various neighborhoods in the city said OPD Spokesperson Johnna Watson.
Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan expressed his gratitude for their commitment to staying in the City of Oakland. “Thank you for your dedication, support and your patience,” Jordan said.
Watson said the remaining 15 officers would be hired in January. OPD Training Sergeant Mary Guttormson said that because of their Alameda County training, the officers would not need the full 18 weeks of field training usually required for new Oakland officers.
East Oakland Deputy Chief Eric Breshears told the new officers that one of the challenges they would face is recognizing that the number of criminals in Oakland is small compared to the number of law-abiding citizens that make up the majority of the population.
“We need you,” Breshears said. “Your primary focus is to serve the community of Oakland.”
Jaren Blue was raised in Oakland’s Dimond district – an area encompassing MacArthur Boulevard and Fruitvale Avenue. He worked as a police cadet with OPD before being laid off . He said he is excited about being able to serve his community.
“I grew up in Oakland and there’s tension between citizens and police. I think I can change that,” Blue said. “I get to start my dream job.”
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