OAKLAND (CBS SF) — With calls to defund her department growing louder, Oakland interim police chief Susan Manheimer penned an open letter to local residents Thursday detailing the challenges her officers faced during several nights of violent protest related to the death of George Floyd.

Wednesday night, thousands of protesters march to what they believed to be the home of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to add their voices to those calling for city officials to defund the police force over tactics used to control demonstrators.

However, Schaaf issued a statement supporting police.

“We know that Oakland Police prevent crime and suffering, save lives, and bring resolution and justice to those who’ve been harmed,” the mayor’s statement said in part. “Oakland can ill afford to further defund its police department, as we already have the lowest officer-per-crime staffing levels of any police department in America.”

Wednesday night march organizers including 17-year-old Jessica Ramos said they were not advocating dismantling the police force.

“We’re not saying to cut the police, abolish the police,” she said. “We’re just saying to relocate those funds into different communities and invest them into our education, into our social services and into our youth.”

In her letter made public on Thursday, Manheimer said unruly behavior dictated the use of force in many cases during the protests.

“Over the past two weeks, the Oakland Police Department joined our community in outrage over George Floyd’s murder,” she wrote. “The men and women of the Department helped facilitate and manage the many inspiring and peaceful protests throughout our city. Unfortunately, like many departments throughout the Bay Area and the country, OPD also responded to assemblies disrupted by violence, requiring crowd management to control physical attacks on officers and threats to public and officer safety.”

“In addition, individuals engaged in widespread looting, vandalism, and arson that damaged our City’s most vulnerable merchant
corridors and communities,” she added.

To emphasize her point, Manheimer released a laundry list of criminal behavior that have occurred over the last several week.

  • Approximately 200 businesses were looted and vandalized.
  • 137 arson fires were set throughout Oakland
  • Resources were additionally stressed responding to violent crime throughout the city. During this time period, five homicides and numerous shootings occurred
  • One of the homicides and shootings was related to the incidents of looting
  • Four people within the crowd reported injuries
  • Two federal protective services uniformed officers were shot; one was killed
  • More than 30 first responders were injured of which 21 were Oakland Police Officers and two were Oakland Firefighters.
  • Mutual Aid was enacted, providing additional resources to manage the large and disruptive protests.
  • More than 300 individuals were arrested with more investigations pending
  • More than 700 calls for service were delayed of which 100 were priority calls.

“Throughout the county and the region, the law enforcement tactics and strategies on crowd management are being questioned,” she wrote. “We understand and are committed to transparency andthoroughly reviewing our operations, ensuring accountability, and improving as an organization.”

Manheimer also said a dedicated Internal Affairs team and the Community Police Review Agency were receiving and investigating misconduct complaints. These investigations will be completed within 180 days in compliance with our policy.

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