Oakland PD chief seeks help from federal agencies

July 22, 2010 6:38:57 PM PDT
The Oakland Police Department is asking for help from the federal government to fight crime. That is because Police Chief Anthony Batts says, "Oakland's PD cannot do it alone." That is especially true with 80 fewer cops on the force after layoffs.

There were no details or specifics given from the police chief on his plan, but he did say the crime rate always goes up in the summer, the worst months being Aug. and Sept.

Batts said a meeting will take place in August organized by the U.S. attorney for Northern California, Joe Russoniello. The plan is to bring in the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to assist Oakland PD.

"All of the federal agencies that have law enforcement responsibilities in this district, as well as the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and resources from the governor's office that took part. All of these people took part in the gang crime summit that we had in Salinas back in September of last year, we expect them all to be at the table," said Russoniello.

In the meantime, Batts told reporters they are coming up with a plan to identify hot spots in the city and go after these locations "hot and heavy."

"We are shifting all of our resources to be able to respond to 911 calls an deal with gangs, guns, and drugs," said Batts.

A spokesperson for the DEA confirmed agents will assist Oakland PD on this issue.

Oakland had to lay off 80 police officers because of city budget cuts. Batts said since then responding to the demands of the city has been a challenge.

"We needed to be closer in the area of 900 to deal with the demand in the city at minimum and as we going in the opposite direction, we fell the impact," said Batts.

To deal with lower-level crimes like burglary, Batts says his department is assigning injured, on-duty officers to work in the radio room to take reports.

Oakland resident Vaughnettia Fluker says she has seen things escalate in recent weeks.

"There is a lot of crime in the summer time because it is more hot and people get more upset and then about the economy and everything, people are really going crazy these days," said Fluker.

Tonight, the Oakland City Council will consider seven revenue producing measures for the November ballot that would, among other things, help save jobs in the police department.

"The amount of money that we spend on police has grown over the last three years. It has grown, from the time I was elected, from about 62 percent of the budget to now nearly 3/4 or the city's budget so our money toward police has stayed relatively is high," said Councilmember Jean Quan.

About 75 percent of the city's general fund goes to the police and fire departments, the majority of it going to police.

Out of the seven revenue producing measures the City Council is considering, the public may see two or three on the ballot.

When Batts was asked about the preparations for the sentencing of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle, he responded by saying that that will be known as "operation sentencing." Once they have more information about that, they will train with the number of officers available within the department.


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