OAKLAND -- A proposal to pay for sheriff's deputies to help Oakland's undermanned Police Department has come under fire from the city's police union.
Sgt. Barry Donelan, the union president, doubted that deputies would do much to solve Oakland's crime problem. He said the proposed funds would be better spent in-house.
"Instead of investing city resources to build up the Police Department, we get this little Band-Aid that's being put over a huge crime problem in the city of Oakland," Donelan said.
The city is required to meet and confer with the union about bringing in the deputies, although the union can't put a stop to the proposal.
Faced with rising crime and a police force that has lost more than one-quarter of its officers during the past four years, Oakland is considering several initiatives to keep residents safe, while bolstering its police force. The Police Department lost three officers this week to retirements and other departments, bringing sworn staffing down to 613 -- the lowest it's been in more than a decade.
Council members Libby Schaaf and Larry Reid, who proposed the contract with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, also have proposed removing conditions to fund the city's third police academy since September and hiring a crime lab specialist and 20 police technicians who would free up officers to concentrate on fighting crime. The proposals, which still need City Council approval, would be funded through higher-than-anticipated revenue growth.
Gov. Jerry Brown last year authorized the California Highway Patrol to help police high-crime sections of the city. The union has no problem with the CHP helping out in Oakland because the city isn't paying for the service, Donelan said.
Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern said he was obligated by law to make the city pay the full cost of the deputies.
The proposed agreement calls for Oakland to pay up to $265,000 to deploy 10 deputies and one sergeant two days a week to support the city's 90-day violence suppression plans.
The deputies will be stationed in high-crime neighborhoods and will respond to high-priority calls such as shots being fired and violent crimes that demand an immediate response, Ahern said.
Ahern said he has received mixed messages about the union's stance. He intends to move forward with the plan if the City Council approves it.
Council members Reid and Schaaf are both pushing ahead with the plan, citing the need for immediate policing help while the city proceeds with more academies.
"I wouldn't be proposing contracting with the Sheriff's Department if we weren't committing all our resources to hiring as many officers as we can as quickly as we can," Schaaf said. "This is a unique moment in time that required some creative short-term solutions."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.