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Councilmembers Seek More Local Residents, People of Color as Police Officers




The City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday voted to continue discussing proposals to reform Oakland Police Department (OPD) hiring and recruitment practices to enable more local residents to become OPD officers. 


The committee also directed the administration to provide answers to questions submitted about recruiting, outreach and budgeting that were not previously answered and to come back with a more thorough report.


The vote to move the discussion to Oct. 25 comes nearly two months after the com- mittee approved a proposal by Councilmember-At-Large Rebecca Kaplan, who is advocating for changes in the Police Department.


“Our Police Department contains very few people who live in, or have connections with, the communities of Oakland. In addition, we have underrepresentation of women, LGBT people, and people of color,” Kaplan wrote in a previous letter to the Public Safety Committee.


“These issues have perpetuated a sense of disconnect between our community and Police Department,” she wrote.


The original proposal called on OPD to investigate strategies that would mitigate underrepresentation of women, LGBT people and people of color in the department, increase local hires, and prohibit past marijuana use as grounds for rejection, among other recommendations.


At the July 12 meeting, Councilmember Desley Brooks requested that Kaplan and the Ad-Hoc Working Group on OPD Recruitment return to the Public Safety Committee with more information and examples of implementation.


That happened this Tuesday, when the Ad Hoc Committee returned to the Public Safety Committee this week with a report titled “The Police Recruitment and Hiring Policy Informational Report.”


Kaplan also presented to the committee her own report with hiring practice recommendations, as well as a list of items that OPD had yet to provide information on.


However, Kaplan’s report lacked the type of concrete programs that the committee had requested – which Kaplan said she was unable to provide because OPD had not yet provided information she requested.


As a result, the committee voted to postpone a decision, asking OPD to provide the answers to Kaplan’s questions.


“The fact that the committee supported my request to make (OPD) give us that information is going to make it a lot easier for me to bring back a proposal with specifics of what they need to be doing differently because we’ll have the record of how much they are spending,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan criticized the Police Department for not making a strong enough effort to recruit a police force that’s more representative of the community.


She said OPD should be involved at community events like last week’s Oakland Pride festival to meet and recruit more LGBT people.

“You say you just can’t find women, have you gone to Mills College? These things are achievable, you just have to try,” she said.


Kaplan’s proposals include changing existing policies so that OPD does not eliminate candidates if they are found with past marijuana usage.

A recent police staffing report found that only 9 percent of sworn members of the department were Oakland residents.



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