In case you haven’t heard, the Oakland Police Department is scrapping its problem-solving units to cope with the 80 officer layoffs planned for today. That means Maureen Vergara leaves beat 13z less than two years after she became the village’s problem solving officer. Captain Anthony Toribio said Monday morning that Vergara’s departure will “place a greater burden on the police department to track crime trends” in 94611.
Officer Vergara isn’t the only PSO to be leaving the hills. As of Monday, Randall Chew (13x), and John Haney (13y) are no longer PSOs for their respective beats. Jim Dexter, the chair of the Beat 13y Neighborhood Council, said (as an individual) that the trio made an especially effective crime-fighting team in the hills, “literally changing and redefining the role of the PSO.” While Dexter said that PSOs were not adequately evaluated by OPD, a dynamic PSO matched with an active council could yield good results. Dexter said that was the case in beats 13x, y, and z. Until today, that is.
Of course, there’s still a chance that the negotiations between the city and the police officer’s union will prevent the planned layoff of 80 cops. If the two parties do reach a deal, the PSOs will stay. Is it possible ditching the PSOs was aimed at drawing attention to the layoffs?