Kaplan Academy

Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan shares her proposal to recruit at least 50 percent Oakland residents for the city's next police academy at a City Hall news conference. Photo by Gina Pollack.Only nine of the nearly 60 aspiring Oakland police officers in the city’s police academy training to become part of the city’s next crop of officers by the end of October are Oakland residents.

City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan is looking to boost that number for the next training cohort, which is raising questions about the benefits of hiring local residents and how the city can recruit more homegrown applicants.

Those nine residents are part of the city’s 170th police academy, which is scheduled to finish training October 31, according to police records, and bring the trainees into the force, in which only 49 of 626 sworn officers live in Oakland. Most OPD officers commute from Contra Costa County or other parts of Alameda County, according to police data from June.

At a news conference at City Hall earlier this month, Kaplan, who is running for mayor in the November election, proposed setting a hiring goal of 50 percent Oakland residents for the next academy.

This week, Kaplan spokesperson Jason Overman said the city currently has no goal as to what percentage of officers should live in Oakland. “Without a goal, it is mathematically impossible to fail at achieving a goal, ” he said.

Overman said Kaplan’s proposal, which is scheduled for introduction at the council’s Rules and Legislation Committee starting at 10:45 a.m. this morning at City Hall, would do something to “strengthen the ties and the trust between the community and the police officers who are sworn to protect…that community.” The proposal calls for recruiting at least 50 percent Oakland residents from the thousands of applicants looking to join the force.

Overman has clarified, in the two weeks since the councilmember’s announcement, that “we are talking about new hires.” He said Kaplan is not proposing a residency requirement for the Police Department, which is illegal under state law. The state constitution stipulates that a city or county “may not require that its employees be residents of such city, county, or district.”

Kaplan said at her news conference that the city already has a 50 percent hiring policy in place for businesses it contracts with. At the news conference she said that with this policy in mind, the city should “practice what we preach.”

That residency requirement she alluded to is in fact for construction, development and other professional services contracts, including trucking and other public works projects—not for all of the city’s hiring, such as police and other civil service positions.

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