OAKLAND (KPIX 5/CBS SF) — Oakland mayor’s campaign promise to make the city safer is going to be hard to keep given the sex scandal that has called into question the police department’s hiring practices.
Working late Tuesday and into the wee hours of the morning, city council members voted to put the next police academy on hold until they have a better process to weed out unsavory candidates.
The move does not bode well for Mayor Libby Schaaf’s so-called “Plan for a Safer Oakland,” which vowed to “bring the Oakland Police Department up to full strength–a baseline of 800 officers.”
Schaaf’s deadline was 2017. But the underage sex scandal that has seen the department go through 3 chiefs in nine days has put that plan in jeopardy.
To make matters worse, the council voted to delay any new police academies until May 2017 after an audit of the department’s hiring practices.
Still, city leaders were trying to sound optimistic.
“What’s happening right now is we’re saying we’re gonna get to 800 any way we can,” says City Councilmember Desley Brooks. “We cannot compromise quality over quantity and that’s the issue we are facing right now.”
Brooks and fellow city council member Rebecca Kaplan said that a rush to hire has led to bad apples on the force. They supported putting the brakes on the next Police Academy.
“The magnitude of this scandal, not only the number of officers accused of sexual misconduct, but the number that are alleged to have known about it and not done anything suggest that we need fundamental cultural change,” said Kaplan.
It was the mayor’s plan to delay the academy until May 2017 until the audit is complete. The money that would’ve funded the Academy will instead fund a police commission if voters approve one in November.
In a statement, Schaaf said “if we are inconsistent in how we staff our police department, we run the risk of jeopardizing the import gains we’ve made.”
Some of the mayor’s detractors showed up to the city council meeting. They believe the mayor shouldn’t have waited for the problems to become so overwhelming before taking action and insist she must go.
“We’re calling for the resignation of Libby Schaaf,” says Cat Brooks of the Anti-Police Terror Project. “The buck begins and ends with her.”
In response to the protesters, Schaaf said she’s proud to live in a country where people can protest their elected officials adding some were protesting her before she was even elected mayor.
“I share their passion about holding officers accountable.”
Meantime, Oakland’s police department is being run by the city manager. A federal monitor is overseeing the hiring process for an interim chief.