Oakland could ease requirements for becoming cop in wake of scandals

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The city of Oakland could make it easier for people to join the police department. (KGO-TV )

The city of Oakland could make it easier for people to join the police department.

The council will debate new rules for recruits at a time when the department is trying to overcome a series of scandals.
RELATED: Oakland Police Department's top cop steps down for 3rd time in 8 days

A new plan to overhaul the way Oakland selects its police officer will go before that city's public safety committee Tuesday night. Among the proposals is to dramatically increase the number of recruits from Oakland.

"Serve your community, don't be a part of the problem, we're hiring," said Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown

Those are the words of the Dallas police chief, but they could just as easily apply in Oakland, a city dealing with its own police crisis.

"The entire nation is grappling with the issue of community police relations," said Oakland city council person Rebecca Kaplan.

RELATED: New OPD acting chief promises to restore trust amid sex scandal

Citing a recent sex abuse scandal and poor relations between police and the community and across the country, the Oakland city council is poised to change its department from the bottom up.

"We're not hiring enough people who are from Oakland. We are underrepresented in people of color, LGBT people and women and so I've asked that we look at what are we excluding people for," Kaplan said.

Some who have applied have been rejected for reasons that some city council members want to eliminate, which includes past marijuana use and students loans. Beyond that, the proposal would allow recruits to have some debt and seek to ensure that at least 50 percent of recruits have a significant connection to Oakland.

RELATED: Mayor Schaaf says police misconduct allegations are 'very disturbing'

"I think we're going to find good people who want to come here, but they have to understand that there are going to be some changes here," said Oakland city councilperson Dan Kalb.

Some wonder if the proposed changes to OPD's recruiting and hiring practices go far enough.

"So, what do I think of that proposal? It needs to happen, but it's also is just a tip of the iceberg," said Mollie Costello of the Blue Center for Justice America.

RELATED: Several Bay Area officers under investigation for possible involvement in sex scandal

"If you want to go into policing having a bachelors or masters degree, not just straight out of high school, or anything like that," said Caleb Thomas of Oakland.

ABC7 News reached out to both the Oakland Police Department and the Police Officers Association about the proposals, but neither offered comment.
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