Oakland police chief is making some dire claims about what his force will and will not respond to if planned layoffs happen tonight at midnight.
Chief Anthony Batts listed exactly 44 situations that his officers no longer respond to and they include grand theft, burglary, vehicle collision, identity theft and vandalism. He says if you live and Oakland and one of the above happens to you, you need to let police know on-line.
Here's a partial list:
false information to peace officer
required to register as sex or arson offender
dump waste or offensive matter
discard appliance with lock
possess forged notes
pass fictitious check
obtain money by false voucher
fraudulent use of access cards
stolen license plate
embezzlement by an employee (over $ 400)
false personification of other
injure telephone/ power line
interfere with power line
unauthorized cable tv connection
administer/expose poison to another's
Batts has only been chief since last October. "I came here to build an organization, not to downsize one," Batts said.
Some 80 officers will be let go at midnight if a last-minute deal is not reached. Negotiations are going on at Oakland City Hall today in the mayor's office. That is about a tenth of the force.
Batts said the 80 officers slated to be laid off - mostly new officers - are "pretty sad and pretty depressed," and those feelings are shared by the Police Department as a whole.
The Oakland City Council voted June 25 to eliminate the positions to help close the city's $32.5 million funding gap. According to the city of Oakland, each of the 776 police officers currently employed at OPD costs around $188,000 per year. Most of the officers who will be affected by the layoffs were on the streets of Oakland when Johannes Mehserle's involuntary manslaughter conviction caused riots last Thursday.
The sticking point in negotiations appears to be job security. The city council asked OPD officers to pay nine percent of their salary toward their pensions, which would save the city about $7.8 million toward a multi-million dollar deficit. The police union agreed, as long as the city could promise no layoffs for three years. No dice, says city council president Jane Brunner.
"We wish we could offer them a three-year no layoff protection we just can't financially.It would be irresponsible of us," Brunner told NBC Bay Area. The city agreed to a one-year moratorium on layoffs, but it is not enough for the union.
The problem is that in the last five years, the police budget -- along with the fire department budget -- have amount to 75 percent of the general fund. After years of largely sparing those departments the budget ax, now it appears there are few other places to cut.
These are the last hours of negotiation and Brunner is hopeful that the city and police will find some sort middle ground.
"It's been very good conversation and not a whole lot of grandstanding." Brunner said. "There's actually real conversations. Each side understands the problem," she said.
First Published: Jul 12, 2010 1:27 PM PDT