OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Oakland’s police department had its officers doubling up for their patrols in the wake of recent shootings across the country, but it raised concerns over response time to crimes in the East Bay city.

 

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“The Oakland Police Department still has officers out in our community, two person cars,” Officer Johnna Watson of the Oakland Police said.

It started after the Dallas police killings, and what happened over the weekend in Baton Rouge made the decision even easier, but still tough.

“You’re going to see less police cars because we have two officers riding in one car. So you won’t see two cars,” Watson said.

There are 35 beats in the city, and each beat had a car. So the math says there will be 17 cars on those beats. There are other cops from other units in cars, so at any given time there will about two dozen cars on the street for the entire city.

Often there were 50 every day.

“That’s scary. That’s really scary,” Oakland resident Elton Allen said.

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There is some concern about coverage of the streets.

“So now if anything happens I can expect less police?” Allen asked.

A source says response times may, too, suffer. The department says maybe, but not always.

“Let’s say you and I were dispatched to a call that would require a cover unit. Instead of me being myself in the car, I automatically have you. So I don’t have to wait for you now. You’re automatically with me. We can respond to those calls in a much more timely fashion,” Watson said.

“When you see a partner with you, you’re able to see more. You’re able to be aware of more,” Allen said.

That would be one positive outcome of a situation that no one wants but because of the times and the fear, seems likely to continue for a while.

“We have the pros and we have to cons to this. But right now our focus and priority is we have to keep our officers safe,” Watson said.

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