Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 13, 2020

Cop talk

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Just in case anyone wanted to defend the Gig Codiga dog whistle videos as a simple reaction to all the “increased crime” going on in Alameda. I’ll remind everyone that Gig Codiga was laying the ground work for LAW AND ORDER all the way back in early September on his campaign website:

But even as crime has reached new heights and the City Council has shrug emoji-ed your families getting axe murdered in their beds, the Alameda Police Department had time to have a sit down with the League of Women Voters and AAUW to have a chat about police issues in Alameda. If you ACTUALLY care about policing and public safety, it’s two hours that you should spend learning rather than trolling Facebook or NextDoor screaming about SO MUCH CRIMING AND NO ONE CARING.

So let me share with you some choice parts of the video which I’ve actually watched all of. I believe this speaker is former Chief Paul Rolleri, but the video is just on the moderator so I’m not 100% sure:

I tell you from from a police standpoint…we don’t have anywhere near the crime levels that we used to have back in the early 90s. As a new officer we used to take 16 – 18 – 20,000 police reports a year and that was true into the probably mid 90s, 95, 96 maybe even 97. And then gradually things started to start to decline. I mean it’s hard to say exactly why that happened but the last several years running we have barely broken 7000 police reports per year. Our calls for service have gone down, although not as drastically as the crime reports. Again it’s really tough to put one or two reasons on that you know why that is some of it is just the natural roller coaster that happens with crime all around the country. Sometimes violent crimes are up, sometimes they’re down, but I think for us that was probably the biggest change that I noticed was just the activity level in terms of crimes change. [emphasis added]

From Acting (at that time) Police Chief Jeffrey Emmitt:

I think we are we are understaffed for what what we’re asking our officers to do on a day-to-day basis and you know that if we were at full staff of 88 maybe that would be enough but unfortunately over the last, what do you think chief, five to eight years we we’ve had a really hard time hiring and retaining people to get up to that 88 so not really sure what it would actually look like if we if we had 88 sworn officers.

Also from Acting (at that time) Police Chief Jeffrey Emmitt:

Going back about 10 or 12 years when not just the city of Alameda but you know I think the country in general was experiencing some some budget issues the economy wasn’t that great and we along with everybody else had to adjust and over probably the span of about six years or so we started cutting positions from the department to where I want to say by 2009 or 10 we were staffed for 96 so we had we had lost about five or so positions and then I want to say by 2011 or 2012, Chief, is when we went to the 88 number when we were still dealing with some budget issues in the city.

And just to provide some receipts for the cutting of police positions in 2011, Alameda was in dire straits in 2011:

Also, as a reminder this was the Spring/Summer of Raymond Zack as well so you can imagine that public sentiment about public safety wasn’t so great this year. So yes, this was the year of deep cuts which affected head count and since then folks have been banging the drum of cutting post-retirement benefits for public safety since then.

Which leads to this by former Chief Paul Rolleri explaining why we have vacancies now, and notice it does not include the language that the Gig Codiga campaign is putting forward about the Council not caring about your safety:

I apologize for making references back to when I was a baby cop but when I tested to join APD in 90 or 91 there were probably 500 people there at one time to take the written test in the cafeteria at the old and now new Alameda High School and that was to fill four positions. Now we have just the just the sort of the opposite effect where we have you know 20 or so positions that we need to fill and the applications just kind of tend to trickle in there’s a bunch of different reasons for that it’s hard to put weight on too much weight on any one of them sometimes it’s the economy. I mean police officers are you know are paid pretty well at the entry level for not being required to have a college degree generally but when the tech bubble was was booming a few years back and you could go work for Apple or Google or Microsoft or whomever in the tech world you could get paid a lot more money and not have to work nights, weekends, holidays, carry a gun and do dangerous work. And it just frankly it wasn’t that attractive to people when because they had other options.

Now, I think, in recent years, I’ll go back five or six years, there’s been sort of a gradual lessening of people’s interest in getting into the career because of negative portrayals of policing. Because it is still a dangerous job even even in a smallish town like Alameda. We’re actually considered a midsize agency in California and when you have other options that don’t require you being away from your family on holidays and nights and weekends people tend to take those and it’s hard to blame them. I think that’s something that we still struggle with today there are upsides to it you know the medical, the fact that there’s still a pension out there which pensions are almost extinct except for in government service so there are some upsides. But I don’t think right now that those outweigh the downsides of working in public safety in a 24 7 365 environment.

And by APD Captain Matt McMullin:

I will say, as I was referencing an article I read from the Police Executive Research Forum entitled ‘The workforce crisis and what police agencies are doing about it’ I will just add that this isn’t an Alameda problem specific to our island but this is a national problem, one that rises to the forefront of most discussions at the national level of conventions or or police trainings of what we can do to recruit a more diverse and robust workforce in today’s day and age.

The second part of the forum had some interesting parts about Lexipol and systemic racism but here are a few things from Paul Rolleri that is worthy to highlight given the narrative around outsiders, defunding/unbundling police, and our own personal culpability in creating an unrealistic culture around policing:

On outsiders causing crime in Alameda:

But this notion that sometimes people in Alameda have that crime is being committed by people who are not Alameda residents is just not based in any any form of reality or fact. The truth is that a lot of our crime is is homegrown, roughly half of it.

On defunding/unbundling police:

I don’t think that there’s a police officer in Alameda or anywhere else that wouldn’t be happy to have mental health professionals be the primary responders to mental health calls, I think that’s one. Homelessness related calls are another one. People in Alameda like to say ‘Everybody Belongs Here’ but not everybody in Alameda is on the same page when it comes to that and so the police department gets very polarizing calls about homelessness related situations. Encampments underneath the Constitution Way overpass, near Marina Village Business Park, at various various locations around around the city. If homelessness is not a crime, and I think that’s that’s the position that the city’s in, I don’t think that we should be calling the police department for those but there is no alternative right now or there isn’t a a sustainable alternative. We, the city, got some other service agencies involved but I think that’s something that that we ought to take a look at in terms of unbundling.

He also brought up the fact that often police are seen as the default for all complaint driven interactions and used code enforcement of smoking ordinances as an example of something that does not require a police officer to investigate.

There was another good bit from, I think, the APD captain about defunding of mental health services back in the 90s and the police being the choice to fill that gap. These are service calls that might be better for someone not carrying a gun.

On examining how we personally use the police department:

I hope that people take a really good honest look at, maybe that in some ways, the community has unwittingly participated in having an over policed city on occasion by calling us for literally everything so just something to think about.

The videos are in the links scattered all on the post, it’s definitely helpful in light of our current discussions about the re-imagining policing, but also while we’re seeing a strange spike in shooting, and candidates running on a platform of this City Council has stood by and done nothing, only I can fix it.


  1. You are really drinking too much of the progressive tea. It is beyond rational belief that Vella, Oddie and JKW want to cut our understaffed police by another 42%. Here’s another statistic- gun sales up 72% in California.

    On the issue of crime: you can’t make it go away. Alameda does not exist in a vacuum- crime is way up in neighboring communities and just to remind you, the mass media is glad to show the rest of us nightly ANTIFA and BLM riots in Portland, “mostly peaceful “ looting and burning in various cities, pulling down and defacing statues, violent assaults, shootings and assassinations of political opponents, as well as the 700 law enforcement officers injured in the line of duty.

    Predicted order of finish (after even more riots, court cases, and screaming at the sky)


    In the end, the Bonta machine has pumped in an overwhelming mount of outside union and developer money to try to jam two corrupt candidates down our throats. It isn’t working.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — October 13, 2020 @ 7:11 am

    • “Progressive tea” = words from current and former Alameda Police Department upper management.

      Comment by Lauren Do — October 13, 2020 @ 8:27 am

    • Do you think Trump will win California?

      Comment by BC — October 13, 2020 @ 8:56 am

    • Looks like your dear leader is going to lose the election and the Senate might also flip. Good. I can’t wait so I can come back here and tell you we told you so

      Comment by john doe — October 13, 2020 @ 12:03 pm

  2. Thanks for the discussion of the statistics that help put some perspective on the current situation. The internet is a double edged knife. Whether from internet hype or reality, I suspect that the subject has seeped into dinner table discussion and that it is not just limited to the internet. I’d rather avoid the discussion – and I love living here – though it seems to have come closer to home more so recently than in the past decade (in which I’ve experienced simple property crimes here). I witnessed an incident at a store on Webster recently involving shoplifting and threats of violence and a family friend had her face smashed at an ATM at SS at the beginning of COVID. Those violent incidents pale in comparison to what is experienced in less fortunate areas around us – and may not even be representative of what the average Alameda inhabitant/resident is perceiving. But don’t discount the effect that they can have on people’s thinking – whatever remedies are in the discussion, and don’t make the mistake of writing all of it off to dogwhistles, though I don’t think you are.

    Comment by MP — October 13, 2020 @ 8:08 am

    • Eloquently put MP! More simply put…”Perception is reality”. The voters will decide very soon.

      Comment by Ned Racine — October 13, 2020 @ 9:02 am

    • I find recent attempts to color the conversation around staffing to be really quite illuminating in discerning whether people have been paying attention over the past 10 years or so. We have systematically cut budgets and complained about the benefit packages being offered to our public safety staff over these same 10 years. It’s only now when (1) we have a Republican running for City Council and/or (2) we’re having a national and local conversation about the role of policing that all of the sudden the slow bleed over 10 years of cut positions and lack of ability to staff up has become a problem that falls directly in the laps of this City Council. That reads as (1) disingenuous and/or (2) opportunistic.

      Comment by Lauren Do — October 13, 2020 @ 9:22 am

      • These are good points, but I don’t think the conversation (the broader one, not just the one about city budgets and the number of officer positions filled) is happening because Gig Codiga is running for City Council. In my (limited) perspective, it is (also) occurring among people who still don’t necessarily know what a Gig Codiga is. (It is kind of a cool name; I might vote for him on name alone were I software engineer).

        Accusing political people of being opportunistic…..well, give me a list of political people who aren’t opportunistic or who do not overstate a case. Seriously. I wish they would not do it, but the discussion – the important and necessary discussion – about reassigning policing duties, as I think you have acknowledged, might have been asserted in the first instance too aggressively (in terms of language, which is something we all pick over constantly here) as a move to defund rather than to unbundle. There is a reason Joe Biden says he does not favor defunding.

        I believe former Chief Roleri when he says he would have preferred not to send officers out on a wide range complaints that can be handled by people without guns. APD may have to push for that anyway if it cannot attract enough applicants. Roleri probably thinks it would allow officers to be more effective crime deterrents and crime solvers. During the incident at the Webster street store, one of the clerks told me afterwards that APD is actually pretty good and better than neighboring PDs in that he would expect them to arrive within about 20 minutes, as opposed to the next day or not at all. I did not press him for details and I’m sure if someone says “gun” (or maybe “threatening”) APD would abandon, e.g. a present traffic stop, to go immediately to the scene. Incidents that start as simple shoplifting can easily escalate.

        Comment by MP — October 13, 2020 @ 11:01 am

  3. Can someone who thinks giving the PD more money will decrease crime explain how that would look? Intuitively, it seems police respond to crimes, not prevent them. The whole idea of defunding the police is to move that money to services that help prevent crime- helping those with mental illness, housing, education, youth programs, jobs, etc. I would think the police would agree with this since they could focus on policing and not the myriad other duties that they are now expected to do.

    Comment by bjsvec — October 13, 2020 @ 9:03 am

    • Street presence and regular patrol goes a long way toward prevention. When cops are more visible, many (certainly not all) criminals are deterred simply by odds of getting caught.

      Bringing traffic patrols back to where they used to be would make streets a lot safer for pedestrians and cyclists, but for other cars as well. Aggressive traffic enforcement is also a show of police presence as described above.

      Comment by dave — October 13, 2020 @ 12:27 pm

      • I dunno, that seems like wishful thinking and not supported by any evidence. You don’t sound like you have lived or spent time in a neighborhood with much crime. So many crimes are just of opportunity. Look left, look right, no cop, steal. I don’t want to live with cops on every corner looking for trouble. Better to address the root causes and have less crime as a result.

        Comment by bjsvec — October 13, 2020 @ 3:16 pm

        • Look left, look right, no cop, steal.


          That seems to support my point of presence as prevention, no?

          Comment by dave — October 13, 2020 @ 4:05 pm

        • No. Because like I said, it would require cops to be stationed on every block looking out for trouble 24/7. There was no crime in the Soviet Union or East Germany. Know why? Everyone was a cop or a spy and you could be disappeared for just about anything. Ask people who lived like that. It was not great. Nor is it great living in a poor neighborhood in America with cops crawling all over looking to arrest people for drinking a beer on their front steps a la NYC in the 1990’s for one simple example. Crime cannot be “solved” by adding more police or more policing. Better to address root causes like why are teenage males that commit an outsized proportion of total crime not in school or working.

          Comment by bjsvec — October 13, 2020 @ 4:31 pm

        • No crime in the Soviet Union?

          Bless your heart…

          Comment by dave — October 13, 2020 @ 4:47 pm

  4. Dave, I agree with bjsvec. I think your pushing your cop on every corner theory because of this election and the fact that you want to see a change at city hall. I’ll be interested to see how far all this “LAW & ORDER” talk goes after the election.

    Comment by trumpisnotmypresident — October 13, 2020 @ 6:10 pm

    • No one has suggested “every corner” and we have never had “every corner.” That is a silly extrapolation of a rational conclusion.

      But lately we have a lot less. It showed up first in traffic, which as a daily cyclist I’ve noticed for last few years. 35 (or 40) is the new 25 and that is a direct result of presence.

      What we have in recent months (12 shootings since June 1 PLUS many gunpoint robberies) is less presence and more violent crime, especially of the gun variety. It is impossible to say every incident is directly correlated, but it is also impossible to believe the overall trend is not correlated.

      Comment by dave — October 13, 2020 @ 7:33 pm

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