OAKLAND -- After four months of free help from the California Highway Patrol, Oakland will begin paying the agency to fight crime on city streets.
In a 6-2 vote Tuesday, City Council members approved paying up to $162,000 over the next two months for 10 CHP officers and two supervisors to patrol Oakland two days a week.
"People are accusing this of being a band-aid," Councilwoman Libby Schaaf said. "But we are bleeding and when you are bleeding, you need a band-aid.
Oakland has seen a sharp rise in violent crime over the past two years, while its police force has dwindled to just 612 officers -- its lowest staffing level in well over a decade.
The city recently agreed to pay for Alameda County sheriff's deputies to also help patrol city streets twice a week for at least three months as a stopgap measure while the city proceeds with new police academies.
The first class of 40 cadets is scheduled to graduate next month, but won't complete their field training until July.
The CHP undertook a free 90-day crime suppression program in Oakland that began Nov. 1. The patrols in some of Oakland's highest crime neighborhoods have resulted in 2,238 traffic stops, 99 felony arrests and 14 recovered guns, according to a city report.
After the City Council agreed to pay for additional help from the sheriff's deputies, the CHP also requested to be paid.
While city officials initially said the CHP's request for compensation was tied to the contract for the county sheriff's deputies, City Administrator Deanna Santana said Tuesday that the two were not linked.
The CHP, which agreed to continue the free help this month, told city officials that it cost them $243,000 for three months of patrols in Oakland and that it had exhausted available funds.
The city rushed the contract in front of council members Tuesday after the CHP confirmed late last week that it would no longer help patrol Oakland free of charge after the end of the month.
Council members Desley Brooks and Lynette Gibson McElhaney voted against the contract. Brooks said the city was overselling the service, noting that the CHP was providing only five patrol cars with two officers in each car and that it wasn't responding to calls for service. She also voiced concern over a series of unbudgeted expenditures made by the council including an additional police academy.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.