I’m well aware that editing is still needed, but here’s a snippet of a section from my thesis which deals with the common wisdom in Oakland that officers were recruited from the South in the 1950s and 1960s.
However staffing and the organization of the police force was wholly inadequate for the task. For years, rumors in Oakland have asserted that given the shortage of police officers during the war, OPD actively recruited southern whites into the force. This makes for a good argument because it explains the brutality and discriminatory policing of the force. This rumor, however, is only half true.
As the Oakland City Charter contained language that restricted the department’s ability to recruit new police officers to those who lived in Oakland for at least five years, OPD and city officials claimed that the department was unable to expand fast enough to keep up with the local population boom.1 To get past these restrictions, the department began recruiting volunteers from the community to what it termed “Auxiliary Police Squads” in 1945. These new volunteers would undergo the same training as officers and were given the full authority of normal OPD officers. While their tasks were menial in nature, the addition of these volunteers freed up officers to take care of more important duties.2 However, such measures were only temporary and if the force was to continue its expanded duties due to the increased population, another stopgap measure would be needed. By 1948, city council members began questioning the restrictions placed on the department and claimed that the city would have to rewrite subsections within the City Charter. It was subsequently altered and the restriction expanded to allow any person who lived in the state for at least 5 years.3 Many of the subsequent recruits included white southerners who had migrated to the Bay Area during the war.
In 1943, responding to several high profile crimes in West Oakland, president of the West Oakland Improvements Association and other prominent black business leaders demanded that the city hire more African American officers to help belay crime.4 The city responded by hiring two black officers, Adrien C. Bridges and Leon Daniels, to temporary positions as duration officers.5 Despite this initial hiring of African American officers, OPD continued to remain white and decidedly southern throughout the postwar period; so much so that in 1966 only 16 of the 617 officers on the force were black.
1Oakland Tribune, “Council Rejects Revised Police Residence Law.”
2Oakland Tribune, “Oakland to Employ 150 Civilian Auxiliary Police to Ease Shortage.”
3“Council Acts to Add Positions.”
4Johnson, The Second Gold Rush, 167.
5Murch, Living for the City, 39.
At Rest. (more)