OPD too busy to respond to all calls Friday night

April 9, 2012 7:54:14 PM PDT
A call for help in Oakland might go unanswered. In fact, many of them did over the weekend. Why are Oakland police stretched so thin?

It was a rare and certainly calculated admission from the Oakland Police Department Monday morning, that last Friday night the department was so short-handed that 13 so-called beats went unmanned.

"I think what we have to look at is the reality of what is going on in our city," OPD spokesperson Johnna Watson said. "When we experience a high volume of calls and we have X amount of officers to deal with those calls, that's a reality."

That reality began Friday night at approximately 6:30 p.m. and lasted until 10 p.m. The department received 125 calls for service -- a very high number -- and could not get to them all because officers were already working on 17 priority cases. As a result, Oakland residents who might have had minor problems, or who wanted to make reports, had to wait. In fact, as of Monday morning, the department still did not know if it had responded to all of them.

The police union calls this symptomatic of a department that had more than 800 officers two years ago and that now has only 657, and all due to budget cuts.

"We have a public safety crisis," Sgt. Barry Donnelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association said. "Bottom line, we just don't have enough police officers for the city of Oakland."

The first call we made after this report from the Oakland Police Department was to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan's office. The mayor's spokeswoman said she had nothing to say, as of yet, because she had not been briefed.


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