OAKLAND — Police Chief Wayne Tucker told a group of neighborhood anti-crime activists Wednesday night that Oakland is poised to see a 10 percent drop in crime this year, but said the department will not reach its full potential until the City Council provides it with the resources it needs to police the city.
Tucker's remarks came just days before he will step down from his post atop the Oakland Police Department after the chief cited "irreconcilable differences" with the council in making a decision to resign last month.
Tucker's last day with the department is Saturday and he strongly indicated Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan will take over as chief on an interim basis pending the outcome of a national search for a replacement.
Tucker said an increase in staffing — the department has about 830 officers compared with fewer than 700 when Tucker was hired as chief in 2005 — and a switch to a geographic-based form of policing, among other changes, leave the department better suited than in past years to confront crime.
Oakland has one of the highest crime rates in the nation, but Tucker said that a resident who places a 911 call is "in the best shape you've been in probably in the last eight or nine years with regard to how many people you have to do the business you're requesting and also the efficiency with which we're doing it."
Mayor Ron Dellums set a goal of reducing overall crime in Oakland by 10 percent in 2009 in his State of the City address in January.
"I think it's very likely we will hit 10 percent crime reduction this year," Tucker said.
Reports of serious crimes — called Part One crime — declined by 4 percent in 2008 compared with 2007. But incidents of violent crime — murder, felony assault, rape and robbery — rose for the fourth straight year.
The news is better in 2009: The year is still young, but reports of serious crime are down in all major categories when compared with the same time period in 2008, with overall Part One crime down 26 percent.
Tucker said the major challenges ahead for the department include improving its criminal investigation units; continuing to reform the department, including meeting the terms of the settlement of the Riders case; and working to secure a steady funding stream for long-term planning.
Tucker said the council has failed to provide funding to help the department meet the terms of the Riders settlement or to use technology to improve policing in Oakland, among other issues.
Councilmember Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel), who is head of the council's finance committee, disagreed with Tucker's analysis.
"I think the chief and I have agreed to disagree on that statement," she said. "The reality is the Police Department is over 40 percent of the (general fund) budget. And we did try to get more money for them, but the police measure failed."
Quan was referring to Measure NN, which council members placed before voters in November to increase both sworn and nonsworn staff in the department, and to implement a crime-data analysis system called CompStat.
Tucker announced his resignation as four council members — Jane Brunner, Larry Reid, Desley Brooks and Patricia Kernighan — were taking steps toward a vote of no-confidence in Tucker's leadership.
The department was beset by a string of high-profile problems, including its much-criticized investigation of journalist Chauncey Bailey's death and allegations that officers falsified affidavits to obtain search warrants.
Tucker said he believes the department will take the corrective actions needed to address such problems and move on relatively quickly.
He introduced Jordan to the crowd Wednesday as the "soon-to-be interim chief" and later said he strongly supported Jordan for the position.
Dellums spokesman Paul Rose would not comment Wednesday on whether Jordan will take over in Tucker's absence. Jordan also declined to comment.
Reach Kelly Rayburn at 510-208-6435.