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OPD Could Cut Nearly Half the Force, Chief Says

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Department preparing for "worst case scenarios"

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts told reporters that his department might need to lay off as many as 350 officers – or 44 percent of the force – in a press conference Thursday.

"I don't think it's going to be that high," said Batts, who explained that he was preparing for a range of possible layoffs, starting at 87 officers and going all the way up to 350. "However, we have to go with the worst case scenarios."

The city of Oakland is facing a $42 million budget shortfall, and cuts to other city programs are not enough to fill it. OPD layoffs could also trigger reductions to violence prevention programs, because Measure Y, a parcel tax shared between police and community groups, requires that both be fully staffed and funded.

Batts said City Council members and police department leaders are searching for other funding streams, but he stressed that the department would still be able to do its job even with the most draconian cuts.

"The city will not fall completely apart because we have a drop in officers," he said.

The City Council is slated to settle the budget cuts in two meetings at the end of June.

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