Skyrocketing injury claims have decimated Oakland's already understaffed police department, forcing city leaders to address inadequate injury tracking systems and hire someone to keep tabs on the injured officers.
Oakland has about 90 officers currently on medical leave, Chief Howard Jordan told council members at a budget hearing this week. That means nearly one out of seven of Oakland's 646 police officers is physically unable to work the streets. In San Jose, only one out of 17 officers is on medical leave.
Police officers in Oakland are projected to file 276 injury claims this fiscal year, a 29 percent jump over last year. And the number of officers on injury leave far exceeds historical averages at a time when the department continues to shrink.
Oakland is down to just 260 officers assigned to patrol, not counting the 63 community policing and crime reduction team officers funded by a voter-approved tax. San Francisco has 1,471 officers patrolling the city and airport; San Jose has 633.
Oakland typically has between 50 and 60 officers on medical leave, Sgt. Chris Bolton said. The department has not yet been able to analyze why injuries have increased.
Police union President Barry Donelan attributed the injury spike to an ever increasing workload including mandatory overtime during the Occupy Oakland protests.