By Alex Emslie
For the first time ever, Oakland police recruits are attending San Francisco’s police academy. It’s a change San Francisco’s police chief hopes will foster collaboration between the neighboring cities’ police forces.
“It goes a long way to really fostering a regional partnership with another agency,” San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr told the city’s Police Commission Wednesday night.
He said Oakland is paying for the five recruits.
“I believe the relationship that will be formed between these recruits will carry them through their career, ” Suhr said, “and as they go back to Oakland and ours stay here, we will have a person-to-person relationship ongoing with an agency where we are just a bridge apart.”
Suhr’s announcement came on the heels of a San Francisco Controller’s Office report published Wednesday afternoon that found a significant slip in SFPD’s staffing levels, down to about 1,700 sworn field officers.
The controller’s report found San Francisco and Oakland are behind several comparable cities in the ratio of police to residents. Specifically, when San Francisco’s population nearly doubles during the day, there are about 200 officers for every 100,000 people. In Oakland, the ratio is 164 officers for every 100,000 people.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports two city supervisors are calling for SFPD’s minimum staffing level to rise to 2,200 from the current 1,971 — to be paid for from the city’s general fund. Supervisors Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen cite a recent jump in property crime cataloged by the Controller’s Office.
From the Chronicle’s Vivan Ho:
The move comes at a time when property crimes are on the rise, according to police figures. The number of property crimes reported in San Francisco increased by 39 percent from 2010 to 2014, with 32,521 reported in 2010 and 45,334 in 2014.
But while officials in many Bay Area cities have linked depleted police forces to the ups and downs of crime rates — including San Jose, Oakland and Vallejo — studies have been mixed on whether more officers means less crime. And police critics say cities around the region are putting too much of their tax revenue into cops.
Wiener and Cohen’s proposal will be heard by the city’s Land Use and Transportation Committee Monday.
Meanwhile, San Francisco is planning two more academies over the next two years, designed to accelerate the hiring of 250 officers and bring the department up to its current minimum sworn staff level by Summer of 2017, according to the mayor’s office.
San Francisco police officer’s aren’t cheap. The Controller’s Office found SFPD officers are paid an average $174,799 in yearly salary and benefits, the highest pay of any city polled.
Oakland Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The department’s own 171st academy class just graduated April 3, bringing 35 new officers to the force.
Read the Controller’s Office report below: