Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, concerned that the public has the wrong idea about the redeployment of what the City of Oakland calls “Problem Solving Officers”, wrote “a letter to the community” which appears below.
It essentially says that 35 police officers are still placed in each of the City’s 35 police beats, but 22 officers were reassigned to what is called the Crime Reduction Team. That group works in the same 100 block area, but where Jordan’s letter misteps a bit is in its explanation from there. What he should have said was that the officers were “wild” – could go wherever the threat is. (Well, maybe “wild” is not the best term to use in the wake of the OPD’s “wild” reputation, most recently enhanced during the Occupy Oakland protests.)
Here’s the letter:
Community: A Message to the Oakland Community, from Chief Howard Jordan
March 2, 2012
Dear Members of the Oakland Community,
During my first months as your Police Chief, I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of engaged and invested residents while attending neighborhood meetings and events. As I travelled across our city, many of you expressed your concern that problem solving officers (PSOs) have been entirely redeployed from their assigned beats in support of the City’s 100 Block Initiative. Because this issue was raised so often, I felt it necessary to address it in a letter to the entire community.
Like you, I understand the value of our PSOs. The community’s confidence in its problem solving officers is proof that Oakland is a city that appreciates the services that our police department provides. The passage of Measure BB in 2010 prevented further layoffs and maintained funding for a variety of Measure Y violence prevention services. Thanks to your support of that measure, 57 PSOs were assigned to beats, while six PSOs were assigned to the City’s sole remaining Crime Reduction Team (CRT).
Each of the City’s 35 police beats continues to be staffed by a dedicated, assigned PSO, and the important and valuable work they do in each neighborhood continues.
Twenty-two PSOs are currently temporarily assigned to CRTs in support of short-term violence reduction strategies. These teams of officers work in the same 100 Block areas as their normal PSO beats. Without these temporary CRTs, basic and integral components of our violence reduction plan simply would not occur. These activities include squad based violence prevention, surveillance, narcotics operations, serving of warrants, and active partnerships and investigations with local, state, and federal agencies. Results are encouraging. During a one month period (January 17 – February 17), temporary CRTs were able to address crime in the following areas:
• 598 vehicle stops
• 248 field investigations
• 170 probation and parole searches
• 170 arrests
• 17 firearm recoveries
In addition, CRTs developed many investigative leads and conducted over 700 hours of walking patrols.
At the conclusion of these temporary violence reduction assignments (estimated to be no longer than an additional 60 days), all 57 PSOs will resume normal duties in their assigned beats. Please visit the Oakland Police Department’s website for updates to our *Problem Solving Officer Directory.
As Chief, it is my responsibility to provide you with the most effective public safety service possible. In an environment where serious, violent crime has become unacceptably routine, it is imperative that we impact this level of violence by making the most of our existing resources in an effective and responsible manner.
I stand by my commitment to make a difference in the few areas of our city where a vast majority of violence occurs. Your understanding, cooperation, and support are essential to our success in this endeavor.
Howard A. Jordan
Chief of Police