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A Message from Chief Sean Whent
It has been two years since I took my position as the Chief of the Oakland Police Department. This past two years has been an incredible honor. Working with the community and fellow City of Oakland Staff has been incredible. The people of Oakland are passionate and committed and the men and women of the Oakland Police Department are the hardest working police employees in the country. I see an amazing amount of energy, commitment, and compassion expressed every day.
When I took this job two years ago, I quickly set my top three priorities as violent crime reduction, organizational excellence, and building community trust and partnerships. We have made significant progress in each of these areas. The most pressing issue facing the city is the unacceptably high violent crime rate. Comparing the two years since I took over with the two years immediately prior, the city has experienced a 26% reduction in homicides, 27% reduction in non-fatal shootings, 7% reduction in robberies, and a 31% reduction in residential burglaries. We have made significant changes in our approach to public safety. I believe these changes have contributed greatly to the reductions in crime. Our public safety strategies are collaborative, intelligence driven, and focused. We understand the importance of community partnerships and recognize that our approach to violence reduction must be holistic and include prevention, intervention, and enforcement efforts.
We utilize the Ceasefire Violence Reduction Strategy to identify and intervene in the lives of individuals most at risk for violence. The goal of the strategy is to interrupt and reduce the incidents of violent crimes. The Ceasefire Strategy engages a broad cross section of community stakeholders including service providers, clergy, youth organizers, and community members. Identified participants are warned that violent acts will result in arrest and prosecution but they are also offered alternatives to violence and given an opportunity to choose a different life.
Building community trust and support is essential to our public safety mission. A community that supports and engages with its police department is a safer community. We are dedicated to transparency and were one of the first police department’s in the country to utilize body worn cameras. We believe the cameras reinforce the need for officers and community members to be respectful in their communications with one another and since implementing them, we have seen significant reductions in officers’ use of force incidents and complaints against officers. We have also entered into a partnership with Stanford Professor Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt to analyze the data we collect regarding police contacts, outcomes, and race. We understand that sharing information and creating opportunities for community dialogue are important steps in our path to a healthy Oakland.
Creating a police department that truly understand and serves the needs of the community is imperative. We see our community as essential partners in public safety and have incorporated community voices into our training programs, advisory boards, and hiring processes. Oakland is a truly special city with rich cultural and incredible diversity. I believe the police department should reflect that diversity and over the past two years, we have had the most diverse academies in Oakland Police Department History. Our academies include Oaklanders, people of color, women, and foreign language speakers. We understand the importance of creating opportunities for young people and we’ve partnered with Merritt College to create a path for youth to become Oakland Police Department employees. We have increased our involvement with the Our Kids Mentoring Program and have officers assigned to middle schools as mentors. We have added Procedural Justice classes into our training program. The course is designed to reinforce the importance of police legitimacy and provides strategies for building trust. The course was developed with community stakeholders and community members teach a portion of the course.
We have made considerable progress over the last two years, however; we recognize there is still a lot of work to be done. As we’ve focused our efforts on violent crime reductions, there has been a rise in property crimes. We are also aware of our need to reduce response times to calls for service. We want to be there when you need us. The police department is growing. We have hired civilian staff and assigned them to field duties. They are able to write some reports and handle calls that do not involve crimes in progress, freeing up police officers to respond to in progress, priority, calls. We have also added staff to our crime lab and we’ve eliminated our backlog of sexual assault kits. Our turnaround for investigative analysis is faster than it has been in years, which helps investigators identify suspects and solve cases quicker. Recently, I reinstated our traffic enforcement unit to increase our ability to create a safer environment for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. We are also planning to hold several upcoming police academies. As we grow, our capacity and ability to provide essential public services will also grow.
This is a turbulent time for law enforcement in our country. We have remained engaged in the important national and local conversations. We recognize our duties as public servants and we are committed to conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of public trust. We are participating on Attorney General Kamal Harris’ Task Force on 21st Century Policing and we have met with members of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. We are dedicated to policing that is constitutional, ethical, effective, and seen by the community as legitimate. Ours is a city with amazing potential and I am confident that together we can create a safer Oakland.
What's New at OPD?
Want to read more about the work we're doing and the things we celebrate? Check out our Police Community News page or go to our Facebook site. To access OPD's official Facebook page, authorized by the Oakland Police Department, log onto to Facebook.com and "friend" Oakland Police Department, Oakland CA - or click on the Facebook link to the left (under Connect).
Congratulations to 36th Citizens Police Academy Class Graduates – On Monday, April 27, 2015, the 36th Citizens Police Academy (CPA) graduated after spending nine weeks together learning about the Oakland Police Department firsthand. The course provided a window into the complexities of policing and a chance to build relationships of trust with OPD. After a welcome by CPA coordinator Ana Martinez, three members of the graduating class – Jenny Chea-Vaing, Akiba Bradford, and Earl Jacobs – spoke. Ms. Martinez formally introduced the class and Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa awarded class members their graduate certificates. The CPA is a vital part of OPD’s efforts to strengthen community relations. During the course, students have conversations with command staff, police officers, dispatchers, and field technicians. The Academy is a great opportunity for community members to learn about policing in Oakland from the perspective of an Oakland Police officer. (See more on our facebook page.)
Oakland Police Department Featured in Popular Mechanics – The April 2015 issue of Popular Mechanics contains a photo essay, “Police in the Panoptic Age,” about the technological revolution brought about by the use of body-worn cameras in policing. The spread includes black and white photos of uniformed OPD officers with their body cameras and an interview with Chief Sean Whent. Chief Whent provides background information about OPD’s experience with body cameras since we began deploying them in the field in 2010 and points out the valuable impact the cameras have had on our efforts to build community trust. (Access the interview and photos here.)
“What Does It Take to Be a Cop in Oakland?” – A Great Story on Local Public Radio - KALW radio reporter Kyung Jin Lee interviewed new and veteran officers on what it takes to be a cop in Oakland. The story is very positive about the Oakland Police Department. The 9-minute audio interview can be heard on KALW 91.7 FM. (It is recommended that you use Google Chrome or Firefox rather than Explorer to pull up the link).
Auto Burglars Arrested – On Thursday, June 11, 2015 at approximately 12:40 PM, Oakland Police officers in the 200 block of Hegenberger Road were approached by two men who reported that both their cars had been broken into and burglarized. Surveillance footage showed a suspect vehicle and the suspect committing the burglaries. About three hours later, officers were able to stop the suspect vehicle in the area of 8400 Bancroft Avenue. They arrested the driver for auto burglary and possession of stolen property. The two passengers were arrested for possession of stolen property. Some of the loss was recovered.
Officers Arrest Three in Connection with Auto Theft – On Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at about 4:00 AM, Oakland Police officers parked in the 3200 block of Lakeshore Avenue saw a car drive by that had been reported stolen. The officers elected to conduct a vehicle stop. The driver was arrested for car theft and possession of stolen property, and two passengers were also arrested for probation violation. The third passenger was released.
Reckless Driver Arrested for Unlawful Possession of Handgun and Narcotics– On Tuesday, June 9, 2015at 8:58 PM, an Oakland Police officer observed a car being driven recklessly in the 900 block of Stanford Avenue and elected to follow the car to make a traffic enforcement stop. The stop was made in the 5600 block of Adeline Street and the driver was identified as having an active county probation and search clause. During the search of the vehicle, officers located suspected narcotics and a handgun with an extended magazine. The driver was arrested for unlawful possession of a gun, probation violation and possession of narcotics for sale.
Oakland Police Reports Arrests of Armed Robbers–
- On Friday, May 29, 2015 at approximately 6:30 PM, Oakland Police officers responded to the intersection of High Street and MacArthur Boulevard to investigate a report of an armed robbery. The victim told officers that he had been robbed at gunpoint near the intersection of 35th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard. The suspect had fled the scene. On June 8, 2015, at approximately 7:40 AM., the robbery victim telephoned OPD and told officers that he had just seen the suspect in the 3200 block of MacArthur Boulevard. When the officers arrived, they were able to arrest the suspect, a male Oakland resident, for the armed robbery. Narcotics and a replica firearm were recovered.
- On Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at about 2:19 AM, Oakland Police officers were dispatched to the 5400 block of Foothill Boulevard to investigate a possible armed robbery. When they arrived, the victim told the officers that he had just been robbed at gunpoint by three men in a nearby apartment. Officers were able to detain two men who matched the description provided by the victim. One was positively identified and place under arrest for armed robbery.
The Oakland Police Department would like to remind you: If You See Crime, Report Crime.
If you’re in Oakland, pre-program your cell phone to the Emergency number (777-3211) so that your emergency call will not be routed through the Highway Patrol. Instead, it will go directly to Dispatch.
Tips - Make Anonymous Tips
Homicide and Robbery Tip Line: 510-238-7950