The union for one of the Bay Area’s most scandal-plagued police forces says the sky is falling over officer attrition rates, conveniently ignoring that department’s own massive, self-inflicted reputational damage.
As anyone familiar with SFist’s nine-years-old-and-still-going “Vallejo is Whack” series knows, the Vallejo Police Department has so many scandals of incompetence and corruption that even the Oakland Police Department would say, “Hey, maybe you guys ought to clean up your act." Mind you, this is the same city that declared a state of emergency because of its own police department’s misconduct, a city that has rightfully earned the nickname “the Florida of the Bay Area.”
OFFICER SHORTAGE: The VPOA says new officers have not been able to pass field training, experienced officers of all ranks have left the force for other agencies throughout the Bay Area, while others are retiring.— Omar Pérez (@omarpereztv) December 1, 2021
"Our ability and effectiveness is severely diminished"
Which is why it is difficult to keep a straight face when reading KRON-4’s report that the Vallejo Police Officers Association (VPOA) is sounding the alarm over the “unprecedented rate” of officers leaving the force. That police officers association, which is the police union, not the force itself, says “Low staffing continues to surpass what is critical for safety of the public and our officers,” in a press release, and that. “additionally, it severely hampers our ability to provide basic police service.”
Since 2010, Vallejo police have killed 19 people, making it one of the deadliest police departments in California. pic.twitter.com/3SZdb8nqYl— AJ+ (@ajplus) November 24, 2021
Hmm, maybe “Come join the deadliest police department in California!” is not the best recruiting line?
KRON-4 does correctly report that according to Vallejo PD data, “In 2020, Vallejo saw an increase in several crime categories in comparison to other years. According to the Vallejo Police Department’s crime data — homicides, rapes, assaults, auto theft, and arson incidents increased significantly in 2020.”
All true, but it leaves out the key detail that all of these crimes are down in 2021. Sure, there’s another month left in the year, but unless there’s some sort of Forever Purge kind of shit that happens over the Christmas season (and it is Vallejo), each of these categories will see crime decreases for 2021. One could argue that there are fewer officers to handle calls, but it is implausible to claim that fewer crimes are being reported just because there are fewer police on the beat.
NEW: A Vacaville PR firm has been shaping police narratives across California, helping agencies bury bad news, remain silent about damaging revelations, and draft scripts and responses excusing police use of force. In collaboration with @theappeal:https://t.co/vnnaQDWsGT— The Vallejo Sun (@thevallejosun) November 30, 2021
And we’re sure that the police union suddenly making hair-on-fire claims to local media has absolutely, positively nothing to do with the Vallejo Sun’s report from yesterday that a public relations firm is helping police departments shape media narratives. That report does mention the Vallejo PD, and its messaging tactics after the June 2020 shooting of Sean Monterrosa, where bodycam footage undercut the police chief’s claims, and destruction of evidence brought investigations from the state Attorney General and the FBI.
So maybe the police force with one of the state’s highest per-capita rates of police shootings is having trouble recruiting because they keep shooting themselves in the foot.
Image: Vallejo Police Department via Facebook