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47 new officers start on the beat in Bay Area city

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Nearly four dozen new police officers will soon start walking their beats on the Oakland streets, as the California city's embattled department welcomes its largest-ever class of recruits to graduate from its police academy.

The 47 new police officers will bring the department's ranks to 659, a significant bump but still below what local officials say is needed in the violence-plagued, cash-strapped port city.

They were set to start off with six months of field training, beginning Saturday, when Mayor Jean Quan held a town hall meeting on public safety at a local high school.

Quan said she hopes to bring the department's staffing to 707 officers later this year.

"When I took office three years ago, we were in the midst of the recession and at our lowest budgeting for police officers in modern Oakland history," Quan said in a statement. "These new officers are a great sign of hope and progress to our residents."

Officials said the class is among the most ethnically diverse, with more than half the graduates speaking a second language, including Spanish, Tongan, Arabic, Farsi, Vietnamese, Pashto, Polish, Punjabi, Italian and Samoan, The Oakland Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1kyNr7D ).

The stronger police presence comes after a series of changes in the force's leadership.

Over the last three years, the city of more than 400,000 has witnessed the departure of three police chiefs and other various city officials.

The force also has been scrutinized by a federally appointed monitor as part of court-mandated reforms to settle a multimillion-dollar lawsuit alleging widespread misconduct in the aftermath of the Riders police brutality scandal more than a decade ago.

Since Gov. Jerry Brown was mayor in the early 2000s, successive political leaders have attempted to transform Oakland's strategic location, affordable rents and vibrant cultural history into a success story. The city had cut the size of its police force from about 830 officers in 2009 to slightly more than 600 last year, making it one of the nation's most understaffed departments.

Still, the city's murder rate dropped last year to 90, marking a 28 percent decrease from the previous year, according to city statistics.

Interim police Chief Sean Whent said at the graduation of the 168th Basic Recruit Academy at the Scottish Rite Center on Friday that the officers "represent the city's commitment to increase public safety," the Tribune reported.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

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elkhartbiker April 05 2014 at 6:32 PM

More police is a good thing but it won't top crime if you don't put the scum bags away. I mean lock 'em up. That means more jails which means more money, money we don't have. So I conclude its hopeless. We'd all better arm ourselves.

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gggaloha April 05 2014 at 6:59 PM

I lived in the Bay Area on a little island (Alameda ) next door to Oakland for many years. At one time, we didn't lock our doors or fear sending our kids to the local grocery store. Things changed for the worse. There are areas in Oakland now that I would never go into, even in an armored car. Is that what we call progress ?

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1 reply
ricklexus gggaloha April 05 2014 at 8:02 PM

100% agreed. I spent 6 years working at the Naval Station and loved Alameda. It's the Liberal policy results over a 30 year period. While I do miss the energy, innovation and creativity of the Bay Area, it's only about 20% of the population that provide that environment. The others bask in the success of a few as if they had any hand in that. We are NOT a rich nation, we're a broke nation which just happens to have most of the millionaires living here.

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butterbean41150 April 05 2014 at 10:39 PM

I hope Oakland will b e cleaned up. I haven't visited Oakland in years. I was born there and raised in Fremont. Would have loved to have taken my kids to Oakland Zoo and Playland when they were growing up. but to dangerous to go there. So God bless the new Officers! And may you help clean up that city of crime!

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1 reply
Greg butterbean41150 April 06 2014 at 12:38 AM

The Oakland Zoo is FINE ... bring your kids! support Oakland... !

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johnklitchko April 05 2014 at 7:13 PM

Raise the punishment bar for rapist and 1st degree murder to madatory death.

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mbrheljr April 06 2014 at 7:37 AM

Best wishes to OPD and all its officers, including the new boys and girls.

Remember, job #1 is going home alive at the end of each and every shift.

Never ignore your training. Every T-stop is different.

And, always prepare for court. ALWAYS!

No matter how dedicated you are and how hard you work, you will ALWAYS have critics.

Many will jump at the opportunity to criticize, even though they will never walk in your own footsteps.

But, few will take the time to offer deserved praise.

Take advantage of professional resources, such as www.CourtroomSurvival.com.

Be well and stay safe.

The drug czar of the desert still has your backs...

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jmsulli April 05 2014 at 10:29 PM

Wait till NYC's new mayor stops the stop and frisk. It will be back to the old days of rob whitey. What a short memory people have. Was it so long ago that there were 2000 plus murders a year?

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moragnb April 06 2014 at 7:04 AM

If every parent loved their children unconditionally and told them their dreams matter and spend quality time bonding nurturing and hugging them then most crime would be non existent !

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1 reply
Patrick moragnb April 06 2014 at 9:00 AM

Exactly. It all begins in the home, despite what "progressives" have to say about the nuclear family, religious training, and traditional values.

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hccbillandpat April 06 2014 at 9:19 AM

Well, here goes. I am an old person well on my way to 80 and have lived all over the country. Some places are terrifying to live in and even visit. Oakland is one of them. I went to a convention at the Oakland Convention Center iln 1981 and was scared to pieces, along with most of the other convention goers, to even go out of the convention center to get to our cars, or to our hotel rooms. The reason was the high crime going on all around us ...and...the thugs that were hanging around everywhere stealing purses, breaking into cars and threatening us. Yep, most of these thugs had dark or olive skin. Now I live in New Mexico and it is frightening to go to the inner city for any reason day or night, but never go at night. The thugs hanging around resemble the ones back in the early 80's in Oakland, only NOW... a person has to be scared of the mental cases trollilng the streets for victims to beat up, rob or just intimidate or even kill. The police here are being critisized for protecting themselves, protecting citizens or trying to maintain order and make everyone obey the laws. Recently the police shot and killed a rabid mental case who was camping (crapping, cooking,peeing, etc) ...unlawfully...right in people's back yards. When confronted, this person armed himself with two big knives and refused to obey the police commands. Now the police, here, are being hung out to dry for shooting this mental, who, by the way, had a rap sheet a mile long........Folks, we better get behind , and support, our police if we want them to protect us and our thilngs from thugs, mental cases and yeah....politicians and bleeding heart idiots who p r o t e s t every tilme the police, who we hire and train, step in and do their job.

Good luck Oakland, hopefully life will get safer, at least safer than it is in New Mexico.

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2 replies
Teeny Weenie hccbillandpat April 06 2014 at 9:40 AM

You shouldn't rely on the police for protection. You should arm yourself and take responsibilty for your own protection. I carry a gun everywhere I go because when seconds count the police are just minutes away.

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NMjack2000 hccbillandpat April 06 2014 at 10:10 AM

I was in Oakland/Alameda back in the last half of the 1960's and even then you had to be very aware of your surroundings. And then also lived in Albuquerque back in the early 1990's however at that time the city was not as dangerous as it now is. There are too many gangs on the loose there today and it appears the police are not able to stop all the gang problems. Well anyway I feel the drug problem has created all this extra crime and also has our prisons full of gang bangers. I know that about 1/3 of the homeowners on my block here in Roswell now have conceal carry permits. A lot has changed from back in the day when it was common to never worry about locking ones doors and or leaving our keys in our vehicles.

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capsec250 April 06 2014 at 1:33 AM


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mcolbert5096 April 06 2014 at 1:27 AM

As a black police officer from a California city approx. 20% larger than Oakland, there is one thing the citizens and city administrators of Oakland need to realize. Ethnicity of the recruits and how many 2nd languages are spoken is all PR crap. Oakland, DC, Baltimore, or Chicago do not need to focus on who speaks Tongan, Farsi, or Pashto. What you need to hire and graduate are the top 47 individuals that are professional, ethical and dedicated to their chosen career. If you do that EVERY person in the community will receive equal and unbiased treatment and you will not require a special "Arabic, Spanish, or African American" police officer handling specific duties.

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2 replies
rustynailaudio mcolbert5096 April 06 2014 at 3:07 AM

Ethnicity does not matter?...How about 707 White Officers that speak no languages but English...Good luck with that!!!!...

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1 reply
mcolbert5096 rustynailaudio April 06 2014 at 9:46 AM

You certainly have every right to disagree with any statement I make. Unfortunately in your "well thought out" response, you make assumptions. I never made mention or alluded to any specific race or ethnicity being superior to another. It is YOU that gives the appearance of being threatened by 707 white officers. My comment only suggests that hiring "the most qualified" INDIVIDUAL will go much further than hiring a person because of their ethnic background or are fluent in a language that .008 percent of their population speaks.

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PACRIMCO mcolbert5096 April 06 2014 at 3:10 AM

I am interested to know why you had to immediately identify yourself as a "black police officer"? The comment regarding "PR Crap" seems to indicate that you think that others should want to see things solely through the eyes your particular value system. All of the graduating class of Oakland PD officers underwent a vigorous vetting and selection process in order to be considered for employment. They are the best of the best that applied. I had the unique pleasure to facilitate their POST required cultural diversity training at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. During my 16 years experience there, our programs have trained over 100,000 CA police professionals. I can say without any hesitation that the recent Oakland PD recruits were in every regard, among the finest participants that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I feel certain that they will serve their agency with professional distinction in the future and that their unique cultural contributions will only be icing on the Thin Blue cake.

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3 replies
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