Vallejo, CA – Police officers today welcomed the temporary assignment of California Highway Patrol officers to assist the under-staffed and under-funded police department battle a crime spree, but Vallejo Police Officers’ Association (VPOA) members demand the City and Police Chief fully staff and fund the police department to provide levels comparable to other major cities.
The City is applying a Band-Aid to a serious murder and crime spree when it should be taking long-term actions to correct a life-threatening situation for Vallejo citizens.
The VPOA represents the 105 sworn members of the Department. The VPOA praised the Friday announcement by the Mayor of help from the CHP, but said the City needs to live up to its public safety commitments.
The Police Department struggles every day to get a minimum number of officers on the street during each of its three shifts. The City should have a minimum of eight officers on the street during non-peak hours and 13 during peak workload times. But due to severe staffing limitations, there are generally no more than six officers on the street at any given time in a city of over 120,000. Vallejo officers respond to approximately 225 911 calls every day.
Oakland and Richmond have roughly double the number of police officers per 1,000 residents than Vallejo. Statistics show Vallejo has just 0.87 officers per 1,000 residents while Oakland has 1.70 officers and Richmond has 1.63 officers per 1,000 residents. The average number of officers per 1,000 population in California is 2.34.
Right now Vallejo police officers are forced to work overtime shifts of up to 16 hours at a time because of chronic understaffing. Fatigue from such long hours results in dangerous working conditions and adversely impacts citizen safety.
Further, the recent Federal grant to hire another eight officers only makes the staffing
deficit greater. The City has funded 122 officers for ten years and but has yet to see that number actually employed. Most importantly, the grant does nothing to attract qualified applicants, especially those officers from other agencies that have training and experience that allow them to immediately police the streets of Vallejo instead of going through over a year of training.
An independent report from the OIR Group commissioned by the City and released in June says that the Vallejo Police Department’s “numbers remain well below the peak staffing levels that preceded 2008. There are other residual difficulties as well: salaries are below the market average, the workload is highly demanding, forced overtime is routine. All these factors make it difficult to attract and retain excellent officers.”
The VPOA needs the City and the Police Chief to stand up and take action now to address public safety.