Oakland Police Department

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Oakland Police Department
Common name Oakland P.D.
Abbreviation OPD
CA - Oakland Police.png
Patch of the Oakland Police Department
Badge of the Oakland Police Department.png
Badge of the Oakland Police Department
Agency overview
Formed 1853
Preceding agencies
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of California, U.S.
Alameda County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Oakland Highlighted.svg
Jurisdiction of the OPD.
Legal jurisdiction Oakland, California
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters 250 Frank H Ogawa Plaza Oakland, CA 94612
Police Officers 754
Chief responsible Sean Whent
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Oakland Police Department (OPD) is a civilian law enforcement agency responsible for policing the city of Oakland, California. Since a 2003 incident involving alleged police misconduct, the Oakland Police Department has been under federal oversight. Ever since, the department has struggled with a potential federal takeover.


The Oakland Police Department was formed in 1853. It succeeded law enforcement duties for Oakland, California, from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. Beginning with World War II thousands of poor rural Southern African Americans migrated into Oakland to work in the shipyards.[1] During this same period the Oakland Police Department began to heavily recruit white police officers from the Deep South.[2][3] In the years that followed incidents of police brutality increased.[4][5]

In the mid-1960s, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was formed in Oakland largely to organize armed violent resistance to police brutality.[6] During their "Patrolling the Pigs" operation, Black Panthers wearing a uniform of black clothes, black leather jackets, and black berets would follow Oakland police patrols while openly carrying statute books and firearms.[7] In October 1967, Black Panther founder Huey Newton shot and killed an Oakland police officer during a traffic stop.[8] Prosecutors failed to secure a conviction against Newton after three separate trials.[9]

Oakland encountered major funding challenges in the years following and the police department became understaffed. Additionally, community activists say too many OPD officers live outside the city and commute, thus separating themselves from Oakland's daily life. By 2012, over 90% of Oakland police officers resided outside of Oakland.[10] In an attempt to increase community involvement and address police officer under-staffing the people of Oakland in 2004 passed a major tax increase known as Measure Y.[11] Some have viewed the measure as unsuccessful.[12] Oakland is currently the third-most dangerous city in the United States.[13]

In July 2000, evidence emerged that the respected veteran police officers known as the "Rough Riders" had over the past four years made false arrests, planted evidence, used excessive force, and falsified police reports.[14] Scores of drug cases were dropped because of tainted evidence. The alleged leader of the Riders, Frank Vazquez, fled to Mexico shortly after his criminal indictment and remains a fugitive from justice.[15] The Riders' actions resulted in Oakland settling a federal civil rights case, Allen v. City of Oakland, for nearly $11 million.[16] As part of the Negotiated Settlement Agreement, the Oakland Police Department is required to make major reforms to ensure constitutional policing.[17] The court appointed an independent monitor to oversee implementation of these reforms.

The 2009 shootings of Oakland police officers killed four officers, marking the deadliest day for Californian law enforcement in 40 years[18] and also the deadliest attack on U.S. law enforcement since the September 11 attacks.[19][20]

Nine years after the Riders case Negotiated Settlement Agreement, the federal court found the Oakland Police Department had failed to fully implement required reforms.[21] To guarantee compliance with the settlement, the U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson appointed former Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Tomas Frazier as Compliance Director in March 2013.[22][23] The Compliance Director holds unprecedented powers to require corrective action even for conduct not specified in the Negotiated Settlement Agreement.[24]

Uniform and equipment[edit]

An officer of the Oakland Police Department in January 2009.

The uniform of the OPD consists of a dark navy-blue shirt. On the left side of the chest, the badge is pinned. The type of badge differs upon rank. Higher ranks tend to have nicer more detailed badges compared to lower ranking officers. Officers are also issued a standard police hat. Navy blue pants are worn with a blue stripe going down them. They also have belts holding their equipment. For crowd control, OPD officers normally have helmets and more protective gear. Most SWAT uniforms are standard.

Patrol vehicles of the Oakland Police Department


Oakland officers are allowed to carry .40 caliber firearms. They are given a list of certain firearms that they may or may not carry during the academy. The department also issues Glock 17 chambered in 9mm.[25] The X26 taser is often carried with most officers. Officers also carry pepper spray and batons as do most other officers. Cruisers may be armed with Remington 870 shotguns. SWAT Teams often have Colt AR-15 style weapons and H&K UMP.

Vehicles and air support[edit]

Police cruisers normally consist of Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors. The department, like many others, is phasing into the Ford Police Interceptor SUV. Currently, there are over 75 in the fleet. Most vehicles are standard. The helicopter for the Oakland Police is named ARGUS after a character in Greek mythology.[26]


The salary of Oakland officers is another controversial issue. Police Officer Entry Level current annual salary is $69,912 to $98,088, higher than most police positions in California.[27] Additional pay increases are granted to higher-ranking officers. Average total compensation for an OPD employee is $162,000.[28] In 2012, 179 Oakland police officers took home over $200,000 in total compensation.[29] Three patrol officers, a sergeant, and a captain each took home over $300,000.[29] In 2011 the Police Department's costs make up 44% of the city's $400 million general budget.[29]

Unfunded police pension liabilities are a separate high cost to the city. In 2010, the Oakland Police and Fire Retirement system granted $70 million in benefits to 1,086 pensioners.[30] In 2012 the city successfully sued the city's pension system to end an estimated $11.5 million in unlawful overpayment to retired police and fire fighters.[31]

Ranking structure[edit]

Title Insignia
4 Gold Stars.svg
Assistant Chief
3 Gold Stars.svg
Deputy Chief
2 Gold Stars.svg
Captain insignia gold.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg
Sergeant (Training Sergeant)/Detective
NYPD Sergeant Stripes.svg
Field Training Officer
Corporal 2.png
Police Officer/Investigator


Title Insignia
Adjutant Sergeant
Inspector General Commander

All new officers begin at the rank of police officer. There are civil service promotional opportunities all the way up to captain, then all remaining positions are appointed. The department is headed by a chief. The current Chief of the Oakland Police Department is Sean Whent.[32] Typically, each division is headed by a captain. A lieutenant will head a division if a captain is not present or non-existent. Lieutenant's duties consist of normal patrol and leadership of lower ranks and sometimes (as specified above) entire divisions. Sergeants, normally don't have any positions in leadership, considering the rank is mainly a promotional opportunity.


  • Bureau of Field Operations (2)
    • 5 Patrol Area - lead by a Captain
    • 2 Neighbourhood Services Section
    • Special Operations
    • Traffic Operations
  • Bureau of Services
  • Criminal Investigation Division
  • Ceasefire Unit

Number of police officers[edit]

On Friday, August 15, 2007, Oakland swore in 22 new graduates from the department's 161st Basic Police Academy, increasing the ranks of the department to 741 filled positions, the most since 1999. At least five veteran officers were expected to be granted disability retirements by the end of the month and up to 20 more were expected to leave by the end of the year. Forty-one potential Oakland officers were in Oakland Police Academy training academy that graduated in January 2008, and another academy was scheduled to start in October. Even with that graduation, there were still more than 60 vacancies in the department where the authorized strength increased by 63 to 802 officers after the passage of Measure Y in November 2004.[33]

On July 14, 2010, Oakland laid off 80 police officers reducing the total officers from 776 to 695. 24 of those sworn officers worked in a patrol capacity or responded to 911 calls. The rest of the officers performed other duties, including community policing activities.[34][35]

As of January 11, 2011, the City Council had authorized 637 police positions.[36]

As of February 2011, Oakland Police Department has 663 filled police positions, six less than the current authorized strength.[37]

As of July 2011, the number of sworn officers is 637.[38] The city is currently hiring officers, recently graduating an academy class and having plans to graduate more classes in the future.[39]

Oakland has eight detectives assigned to investigate robberies.[40] There are six Special Victims Unit investigators.[41] Oakland has fourteen police dog teams.[42] There are 62 members on Oakland's SWAT team.[42]


Oakland Police officers dressed in riot gear in response to protests against the BART Police shooting of Oscar Grant.

In 1991, the Oakland Police Department paid a $42,000 settlement to rapper Tupac Shakur after allegedly brutally beating him for jaywalking.[43]

In 2003, the city paid $10.9 million to 119 plaintiffs who reportedly had been victimized by members of Oakland Police. However, after the officers were fired from the OPD, a jury that had no black members on it ended up clearing the four Rough Riders on eight of the counts against them, and were unable to reach a decision on 27 others.[44] As a result of the Negotiated Settlement Agreement stemming from Allen v. City of Oakland (AKA the Riders Case), an Independent Monitoring Team was appointed by the Federal District court.[45] In January 2012, the Court found that OPD had still not complied with the terms of the settlement, and ordered OPD stripped of some of its independence, requiring on-going consultation with the Independent Monitor to exercise an array of powers.[46] Plaintiffs in the case have requested OPD be placed under the control of a federal receivership.[47]

In 2003, two undercover members of the Oakland Police Department were assigned to participate in the anti-Iraq War movement. They stood for and were elected to leadership roles before their true affiliations were uncovered.[48]

In 2008, Oakland agreed to pay $2 million to 16 women, all Asian, who alleged being groped, harassed, or victimized by a member of the Oakland Police Department.[49][50] After a criminal trial, former Officer Richard Valerga was sentenced to six months in jail.[51]

In 2010, Oakland agreed to pay $6.5 million to individuals alleging that the Oakland police for years illegally obtained search warrants based on false or misleading information.[52][53]

In 2011, Oakland Police came under further criticism for its handling of Occupy Oakland.[54] Occupier and United States Marine Corps and Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was shot in the head with a beanbag round by an Oakland police SWAT team member.[55][56] Federal district judge Thelton Henderson threatened sanctioning the Oakland PD if it does not submit a plan to address the immense number, over a thousand, of complaints over the department's violent handling of Occupy Oakland.[57]

Oakland has paid a total of $57 million during the 2001-2011 timeframe to alleged victims of police abuse—the largest sum of any city in California.[58]

In 2012, the City of Oakland authorized an $800,000 settlement stemming from a case in which two citizens were unlawfully strip-searched on a public street by Oakland Police.[59]

Officers killed in the line of duty[edit]

As of 2009, the department has lost 51 officers in the line of duty, 32 of which died as a result of gunfire.[60] The 2009 shootings of Oakland police officers took place on Saturday, March 21, 2009, when four Oakland, California, police officers were killed by a felon wanted on a no-bail warrant for a parole violation. The felon, Lovelle Mixon, shot and killed four Oakland police officers, two during a routine traffic stop and two when SWAT team officers attempted to apprehend him two hours later. Mixon staged an ambush of the police from his hiding place and was killed in a barrage of gunfire as officers returned fire in self-defense.[61]

The 2009 killings made it one of the worst days for law enforcement in California's history. It was the single deadliest attack on California's police officers since the Newhall massacre in 1970, when four California Highway Patrol officers were shot and killed by two men in the Santa Clarita Valley. It was also the deadliest attack on U.S. law enforcement since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.[19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Theoharis, Jeanne F., and Komozi Woodard, eds. Groundwork: Local Black Freedom Movements in America. NYU Press, 2005, pg. 303. http://nyupress.org/books/book-details.aspx?bookId=9679#.UnHysyjevAY
  2. ^ Id.
  3. ^ Hayes, Edward Cary. Power structure and urban policy: who rules in Oakland?. McGraw-Hill, 1971, pg. 46.
  4. ^ Theoharis, Jeanne F., and Komozi Woodard, eds. Groundwork: Local Black Freedom Movements in America. NYU Press, 2005, pg. 303.
  5. ^ "Crime Commission Reveals Local Cops' Brute Methods". California Voice. 13 January 1950. 
  6. ^ http://www.pbs.org/hueypnewton/people/people_hutton.html
  7. ^ Self, Robert O. (2003). American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 227. ISBN 0-691-12486-8. 
  8. ^ People v. Newton, 8 Cal. App. 3d 359, 87 Cal. Rptr. 394 (Ct. App. 1970). http://law.justia.com/cases/california/calapp3d/8/359.html
  9. ^ Papke, David Ray. "The Black Panther Party's Narratives of Resistance." 18 Vermont Law Review 645 (1994). http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/facpub/479/
  10. ^ BondGraham, Darwin (8 August 2012). "The High Costs of Outsourcing Police". East Bay Express. Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  11. ^ http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CityAdministration/d/MeasureY/
  12. ^ https://www.rand.org/pubs/technical_reports/TR546.html
  13. ^ http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-10-most-dangerous-cities-in-america-2013-06-22
  14. ^ http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/OPD/o/BureauofInvestigation/DOWD004998
  15. ^ Zamora, Jim Herron (13 September 2002). "Fugitive cop at trial's core". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  16. ^ http://www.oaklandcityattorney.org/PDFS/Riders/Background%20Fact%20Sheet%20on%20NSA.pdf
  17. ^ http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca1/groups/police/documents/webcontent/dowd022066.pdf
  18. ^ http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/police/documents/webcontent/dowd005731.pdf
  19. ^ a b Associated Press (April 4, 2009). "3 officers killed in Pittsburgh shooting". Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved April 6, 2009. 
  20. ^ a b "Shooting ranks as one of deadliest in U.S. law enforcement in decades". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. April 5, 2009. Retrieved April 6, 2009. 
  21. ^ http://www.oaklandcityattorney.org/PDFS/Riders/Court%20Order%20re%20Compliance%20Director.pdf
  22. ^ Artz, Matthew. "Oakland Police Department avoids federal takeover, but agrees to unprecedented control over police". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  23. ^ http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/california/candce/3:2000cv04599/41858/911
  24. ^ http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/california/candce/3:2000cv04599/41858/924
  25. ^ http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/opd-recalls-hundreds-of-recently-issued-guns/nD3sw/
  26. ^ http://www.oaklandmofo.com/blog/oakland-police-helicopter-to-fly-again/
  27. ^ Johnson, Chip (11 March 2011). The San Francisco Chronicle http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/johnson/article/Oakland-police-firefighter-pay-devouring-budget-2389276.php.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ Barro, Josh. "Of Course Oakland Can't Afford These Cops". RealClearMarkets. Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  29. ^ a b c BondGraham, Darwin (29 May 2013). "Throwing More Money at Police". East Bay Express. Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  30. ^ Kuruvila, Matthai (29 July 2012). "Oakland's financial time bomb: pensions". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  31. ^ http://www.oaklandcityattorney.org/news/Press%20releases/PFRS%20ruling.html
  32. ^ Will Kane (2014-05-15). "Sean Whent named permanent Oakland police chief". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  33. ^ http://www.insidebayarea.com/search/ci_6657477?source=email
  34. ^ http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/east_bay&id=7552737
  35. ^ http://oaklandlocal.com/blogs/2010/07/ignacio-de-la-fuente-police-layoffs-budget-cuts-how-we-got-here
  36. ^ http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/police/documents/webcontent/oak024398.pdf
  37. ^ Harry Harris (February 21, 2011). "10 laid off Oakland police officers rehired". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  38. ^ Johnson, Chip (September 8, 2011). "Oakland police reorganization a strategic plan". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  39. ^ http://www.opdjobs.com/
  40. ^ Kane, Will (September 30, 2013). "Oakland robberies surge as investigations sputter". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  41. ^ Oakland Police Department Criminal Investigation Division, 2012 Criminal Investigation Division Annual Report (27 Feb 2013), pg. 34 http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca1/groups/police/documents/webcontent/oak040425.pdf
  42. ^ a b Oakland Police Department Bureau of Field Operations Support Operations Division, Annual Report 2012, pg. 8 http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca1/groups/police/documents/webcontent/oak040319.pdf
  43. ^ Pareles, Jon (14 September 1996). "Tupac Shakur, 25, Rap Performer Who Personified Violence, Dies". The New York Times. 
  44. ^ Harris, Paul (26 October 2011). "Oakland police: controversial history sets tone for city's discord". The Guardian (London). 
  45. ^ Oakland City Attorney - Notable Cases
  46. ^ Wall Street Journal - Oakland Police Get a Federal Monitor JANUARY 26, 2012
  47. ^ Huffington Post - Oakland Police Department Only Weeks Away From Being Placed Into Federal Control January 27, 2012
  48. ^ Police spies chosen to lead war protest
  49. ^ Oakland to pay $2 million to officer's victims
  50. ^ JANE SMITH v. CITY OF OAKLAND C 06-07171 MJJ (2007)
  51. ^ Ex-officer sentenced to jail in gropings
  52. ^ City to Pay $6.5 Million to Settle Claims Police Lied in Seeking Warrants
  53. ^ Oakland settles warrant suits for $6.5 million
  54. ^ "Most Popular E-mail Newsletter". USA Today. January 29, 2012. 
  55. ^ Binelli, Mark (19 January 2012). "Scott Olsen: Casualty of the Occupation". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  56. ^ http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/01/11482075-overwhelming-military-type-response-report-criticizes-oakland-police-handling-of-occupy-protests
  57. ^ http://www.care2.com/causes/judge-threatens-sanctions-against-oakland-police-for-military-type-response-to-occupy-protests.html
  58. ^ KTVU - Investigation reveals East Bay city paying out extraordinary police abuse settlements Nov 14, 2011
  59. ^ Henry K. Lee, SFChronicle Oakland to pay $832,000 in legal fees March 21, 2012
  60. ^ "Oakland Police Department, California, Fallen Officers". The Officer Down Memorial Page. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  61. ^ Doomed SWAT sergeants didn't expect the rifle, San Francisco Chronicle, March 23, 2009

External links[edit]