Establishing public safety is among local government’s fundamental obligations to its citizens. When we incorporated in 1999 setting up a police department was the top priority. To assist us we reached out to the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office and formed a police department as a contract city with the Sheriff’s Office. This meant that Oakley’s new police personnel would wear Oakley uniforms and drive Oakley police cars, but, from the Chief on down they were employees of the Sheriff’s office. The initial department consisted of approximately 15 sworn personnel. Over the coming years as the community grew, so did the Police Department. A canine program, Problem Oriented Policing Program (POP) and Traffic Enforcement Unit were developed, all while remaining a Contract City.
As our community continued to grow, the City Council and staff recognized that the Police Department would need to grow as well. With the cost of the contract increasing there was concern we would not be able to keep pace with the growth. The City Council and key staff members began to analyze the costs of the contract. Due to cost increases, it was becoming more and more difficult to add Officers. From 2011 to today, we have not added any new positions. After several months and much consideration, it was determined the city could provide these vital services in a more cost effective manner by forming our own “standalone” police department. The overall savings is at least $700,000 per year and the intent is to use that to add more officers and programs.
In August, we hired the Chief of Police. Chief Thorsen returns to the City of Oakley after serving as the Chief of Police in our contract from 2005 through 2010. The Chief also served as the Chief of Police in Clayton from 2012 to 2015. In March we added two Lieutenants. Lieutenant’s Jeff Billeci and Eric Navarro were selected from a group of highly qualified applicants to serve our community.
On May the 6th we will officially assume full responsibility for law enforcement in the City of Oakley with an authorized strength of 29 sworn personnel and approximately six support and professional positions. Plans for the future are the addition of more sworn staff to include additional traffic enforcement personnel, the renewal of our POP and canine programs and improved supervision in our investigative unit.
The Oakley Police Department is a full service municipal law enforcement agency. It is broken into two major divisions. The Operations Division incorporates the Patrol and Investigations functions. Their responsibility is to handle all calls for service, document and follow up on criminal matters, enforce traffic laws etc. Lt. Navarro will head up the Operations Division
The Administrative Division is responsible for the maintenance of all police records, procurement of necessary equipment, training and assuring we are in compliance with those mandates required by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). This division will be headed by Lt. Billeci.
There will be a ceremonial swearing in of the new Police Department on Tuesday May 10th at 6:00 p.m. The ceremony will take place prior to the regular meeting of the Oakley City Council. Members of the public, family and friends are invited to attend this historic event.