Cuts on Safety
Oakland has long held the dubious honor of having a crime rate that doubles and sometimes even triples that of the national average. To combat such sobering statistics, the city has devoted the last five years to swelling the ranks of its police force, and as the Wall Street Journal reports, has seen the number of homicides decrease by around 20 percent over the last year.
In the midst of the recession and budget crunches, however, Oakland now has plans to lay off a fifth of the police in the coming year. While the city has fought for months to avoid cuts to public safety, it now contends that is has no choice. Unless a resolution comes out of a last-ditch meeting between Oakland officials and union leaders this morning, 80 officers will be laid off tonight. The planned cuts will mean that specialized units that focus on community policing, parolees and dangerous criminals will be eliminated, and that more resources will be placed towards patrol cars rather than patrols on foot.
The union has already agreed to have police officers pay 9 percent of their salaries into their pensions, as other city employees do, and to create a two-tiered pension system. In exchange, they are asking that Oakland ensure increased job security with a three-year moratorium on further layoffs, a proposal that the officials have thus far refused.
In a city that boasts the highest violent crime rate in California, a minimum staffing requirement appears not only fair to those who help to ensure the welfare of our communities, but vital to maintaining the gains made in public safety.