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Letters for the Week of February 12

Readers sound off on Oakland police, cat breeders, and the old Bay Bridge.

1 comment

"Oakland Cops Think City Is Too Liberal," News, 1/29

Compassion for Cops

I am writing to express my sincere appreciation for the quality article (although difficult) that you published on the Oakland Police Department. I know that it must be very demanding for the police officers and employees to work under those conditions. And I know how problematic it can be for the community to try to understand the realities of the daily duties of the police officers on the streets.

I was the chief of police for Santa Ana, California for over 23 years and with the police department for over 42 years. I have lived through the great times of employee relations and teamwork at every level of city government, and the very challenging times of the 1980s with labor unrest and conflicts with the administration and the mayor and city council.

Although it can be extremely frustrating dealing with a city and department culture that is so divisive, it certainly helps when you have the media expose the true feelings and frustrations of the employees to the public. Hopefully, the current and future Oakland Police Department leaders will openly accept the employees' comments and feelings with the best intentions and put themselves above the fray and do the right things to get the city and department back on track to provide quality public safety services.

My wife and I attended the Oakland funeral of four of Oakland's officers who were killed in one day. (We attend every one possible to show our support to the families left behind.) I am not sure anyone in government service or the community can truly understand what happens to the stress levels and actions of their co-workers when an officer (let alone four in one day) are violently killed in the line of duty. I lived through it when one of our officers in 1977 was killed in a cold-blooded murder and I personally lived with the devastating impact it had on the surviving officers that were engaged in the violent shoot-out with the killers. No one can accurately appreciate what it does long-term to a department, and to the employees and their families, unless you have lived through it.  

My point is the city and police leaders have to really, truly care about their officers and their families and the officers have to know it, and being cops they know when someone is genuine or not. Real compassion can make all the difference in the world to relationships and working together to solve problems. Without it you are destined to be second-rate and remain in a cycle of struggle no matter what you do. It is critically essential to building a supportive culture of trust and service. Thank you again for the well-written article.

Paul M. Walters, Anaheim

Weak Internal Leadership

I sympathize with officers who complain about weak internal leadership and Oakland's inept and inconsistent elected officials. Department leadership needs to set clear standards and hold everyone accountable. Officers who abuse citizens or neglect their jobs should work elsewhere. Officers committed to working with our community to protect people's lives, property, and constitutional rights should receive positive recognition within the department and from the residents of Oakland. Oakland must finally satisfy the requirements of the negotiated settlement agreement, end federal court oversight, and stop spending millions of dollars to resolve cases of police abuse.

Dan Siegel, candidate for mayor of Oakland

"Oakland Should Unplug the DAC," Seven Days, 1/29

Unplug Incumbents

Good piece — well written and to the point. I would only add that what needs to be unplugged are the incumbents downtown who cannot seem to avoid making bad decisions. They never fully justify these bad decisions. They ultimately fail to manage well and monitor the programs they spend our money on. Please, Oakland, vote them out when you next have the chance.

Michele Ocla, Oakland

Vanquish Real Threats

In Robert Gammon's article, "Oakland Should Unplug the DAC" he noted that "the city can't even afford to hire enough crime evidence technicians." He also cited the nearly $11 million of federal taxpayer funds needed to create the DAC and the $1.2 million in annual maintenance costs.

Approximately 160 rapes occurred in Oakland in 2013. In 2012, Alameda County estimated a backlog of 1,900 untested rape kits. De-prioritizing funding for crime evidence technicians in 2014 plays a role in this. There are a very large number of Alameda County residents who have been abandoned because local politicians want a shiny new surveillance edifice where they can play-act Carrie Mathison from Homeland. Let's invest the million-odd dollars to process the rape kits. Let's instead insist that federal agencies redirect their $11 million to the entire Bay Area so this obscene backlog of un-investigated, open rape cases are closed. We don't need phantom threats and dubious, scattershot techniques targeting thousands of innocents for no legitimate purpose. Let us instead demand our law enforcement agencies vanquish real threats using proven techniques we know will result in making everyone truly safer.

When Oakland has zero rapes and no backlog of rape kits, let's re-examine whether to fritter away millions of dollars annually to more efficiently track, detain, and arrest peaceful protesters the next time BART police shoot some teenager. Until then, let's demand our elected officials direct enforcement entities to focus on genuine, actual crimes scarring hundreds of women, men, and children each year — even if it means asking a defense contractor executive to miss out on his annual bonus.