Oakland Mayor to Rehire Ten Laid Off Officers
Mayor Jean Quan is shifting resources to the Police Dept.
San Francisco Chronicle via YellowBrix
February 01, 2011
OAKLAND – Oakland Mayor Jean Quan announced Monday that she would rehire 10 of the 80 officers the City Council laid off in July, one step in what she portrayed as a comprehensive effort to make the Police Department a top priority.
Quan said she would assign computer technicians to the Police Department and prioritize patrol car repairs. She also announced that long-standing problems with patrol car radios had been fixed.
The bevy of changes came just days after Police Chief Anthony Batts questioned the city’s dedication to lowering crime and suggested it might prompt him to leave. He said Monday that Quan’s moves were reassuring.
“The mayor has taken a very aggressive stance on the issues I’ve brought up,” he said, with Quan sitting beside him. “I hope the officers see the city is going in the right direction, working together, to make sure their workplace and environment is the best.”
Batts said he would decide by the end of the week what his future intentions would be. Quan has said she wants Batts to stay.
“I’m going to send him a valentine, too,” she joked.
Batts apologized if he offended anyone by his criticism of department resources last week.
“Sometimes you have to stand up and say some very tough things,” he said, adding that he was meeting with a variety of city residents and leaders to make sure no bridges were burned.
“I may have stepped on toes,” he said. “I have to make sure those relationships are still there and that we can all move forward as a city.”
The police department has been steadily losing officers for two years, going from a high of 837 in 2008 to 656 today.
The plan was to allow the force to reach 639 officers through retirements and transfers. Quan said she hopes to instead make 666 officers the new baseline.
“If it’s true, that’s very encouraging,” said Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association.
City Council President Larry Reid and Council Public Safety Committee Chair Pat Kernighan said they were committed to supporting Quan’s plan.
Quan also announced that four officers were promoted to sergeant last week, increasing officer supervision on the street – a key element in a controversial settlement agreement that has hung over the department.