OAKLAND (CBS 5) — Already dealing with low staffing levels, the Oakland Police Department has a growing number of officers on medical leave.
“These officers are the hardest working officers in the state of California, if not America, given the level of demand for service and the stresses that are put on them on a daily basis,” said Barry Donelan of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association.
From clashes with the Occupy movement, to an increase in violent crime and assaults on police officers, Oakland Police have a dangerous job.
“Officers are injured due to the constant deployment, the stresses on them, the workload,” Donelan said. “Morale is low and as a result, officers are being injured on duty as they try and serve the citizens of Oakland.”
Injuries are adding up as Gilbert Garcia, a civilian police administrator, recently told the Oakland City Council budget committee.
“Obviously this is an ongoing problem. We have 90 officers that are out of play right now,” Garcia said on June 12th.
That’s 90 Oakland officers on medical leave right now, about one-seventh of the force of 646 cops.
Compare that to San Jose’s police force, where a much smaller ratio of one out of 17 cops is out on medical leave.
“Really what it comes down to is figuring out why our officers are getting hurt, and then either coming up with strategies to train them better, to stop doing what we are doing that are causing injuries and fix the problem,” Garcia added.
Oakland City Councilmember Pat Kernighan said that is a lot of officers on leave. “If we could get half of those police officers back, it would be the equivalent of a whole police academy,” she said.
Kernighan said this is an urgent issue, especially considering the lack of manpower from budget cuts.
Factoring in the injured officers, Oakland only has about 260 cops on patrol right now. Compare that to San Jose, which has 633. San Francisco, the smallest of the 3 cities in size, has a whopping 1,471 officers on patrol.
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