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Oakland police union announces
new staffing agreement to combat crime wave

By Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News Service

March 16, 2006

OAKLAND (BCN) - The union that represents Oakland's police officers reported today it has reached a tentative agreement with police Chief Wayne Tucker and City Administrator Deborah Edgerly on a plan to put more officers on the street to fight a recent crime wave.

Oakland Police Officers Association President Bob Valladon and union attorney Rocky Lucia said at a news conference that Tucker has signed the tentative agreement and it will be presented to the Oakland City Council for a vote on Tuesday.

Police spokesman Roland Holmgren, who observed the news conference, said he understands there is a tentative agreement but doesn't know if Tucker has signed an agreement so far.

A spokeswoman for Edgerly said only that city leaders are "cautiously optimistic'' that an agreement has been reached.

Holmgren said Tucker would hold his own news conference at 9 a.m. Friday to discuss the tentative agreement.

Valladon said the tentative agreement would put 72 officers on patrol at the busiest times, up from the current total of 38 officers. Valladon said the union agreed to Tucker's request that more officers be available between the busy period of midnight to 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Referring to ongoing talks between the union and Tucker and Edgerly, Valladon said, "Without question, the changes we've made in the last 72 hours will bring crime down and will bring police response time down.''

Tucker, Mayor Jerry Brown and other city officials want to beef up the city's police force in response to a spike in crime this year.

According to City Council figures, homicides in Oakland increased 118 percent in the period from Jan. 1 through March 9 this year compared to last year, from 11 to 24. The homicide total currently is 27 following another homicide Wednesday night.

According to the City Council, aggravated assaults have increased by 162 percent, forcible rapes have increased by 35 percent and armed robberies have increased by 102 percent.

The City Council on Tuesday discussed declaring a state of emergency that would have allowed Tucker to redeploy officers according to his own plans without having to meet with the union any more.

But a majority of council members voted to wait until next week to see if the two sides could reach an agreement.

At the Tuesday meeting, several council members and several members of the public alleged that the union was being obstructive. City Council member Pat Kernighan said, "The public finally understands that the one and only thing standing in the way of more officers on the street is the Oakland Police Officers Association.''

Valladon said Brown was the first one to tell the news media about a tentative agreement, mentioning it on a radio talk show this morning.

But Valladon said a tentative agreement wasn't finalized until noon today, after Brown finished his radio appearance.

Brown's spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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