APD Chief Updates Council

APD Chief Updates Council

Ekene Ikeme

Alameda Police Chief Nishant Joshi informed council members and the public of policies his department is implementing to make Alameda Police Department (APD) more efficient at the Sept. 21 City Council meeting.

Joshi’s presentation was a 90-day update of his tenure as chief of police. He was sworn in on June 7.

Joshi began his presentation by informing council that he promoted several employees to sergeant and lieutenant to ensure a high-ranking employee was on shift seven days a week and almost 24 hours a day. When Joshi took over several key leadership positions were vacant, causing persons of lower ranks to temporarily fill higher ranked assignments.

“Our leadership team saw this as a risk management concern and made the appropriate adjustment,” said Joshi.

Joshi also reorganized the department’s executive team into three sections: Bureau of Operations (BOO), Bureau of Services (BOS) and the newly formed Office of the Chief of Police (OCOP). Each section will be given several tasks to implement within 120 days. One of the BOO’s tasks include implementing its Equity First (fairness, integrity, respect, service and teamwork) initiative. One of the BOS’ tasks include a more detailed focus on employee wellness. The OCOP will apply strategies from the police reform racial equity steering committee final report.

Joshi said the department adjusted officer beats to better meet the needs of residents. Joshi learned that there were many beats that accounted for less than 10 percent of calls for service, while one beat accounted for almost 50 percent of the calls for service.

“We realigned our beat boundaries to create a more equitable service to all beats and this was done based on volume of calls for service,” said Joshi.

Joshi also plans to hire 19 to 20 additional officers by May 2022. Joshi also said APD was experiencing significant staffing deficits, with the biggest deficit at the officer rank at 20 vacancies, when he began his tenure. Currently, many of the proposed hires are completing field or police academy training. The department also hired seven new field training officers, bringing the overall total to 13, to train new officers for success opposed to evaluating failures. APD also hired a new field training officer coordinator.

Several residents spoke during the public comment portion. Alexia Arocha said she was concerned that more officers would be hired and patrolling Alameda.

“How many times have we been advocating for less police interaction with the public and here it seems the chief wants to bolster the force even more and possibly at the expense of the greater Alameda community,” said Arocha.

A few commenters were upset Joshi did not mention Mario Gonzalez’ death investigation in his presentation. Joshi later said Mario Gonzalez’ death investigation is being conducted by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and Coroner’s Office and APD is not involved. Gonzalez died after a confrontation with Alameda police officers on April 19. Other commenters were concerned the presentation did not address officer bias, racism or accountability.

Joshi finished his presentation by revealing Alameda crime statistics from July 31, 2020, to July 31, 2021. Total crime in Alameda is down 4 percent year-over-year, but level one crime (murder, auto theft, robbery, theft over $400, etc.) is up 3.7 percent. The leading categories are assault, which is up 215 percent (from 26 to 82) and rape, which is up 133 percent (from 6 to 14). Level 2 crime (forgery, vandalism, DUI, etc.) is down 15 percent.

Joshi took over as police chief from interim chief Randy Fenn. Fenn was hired after Paul Rolleri resigned on Aug. 28, 2020, amid controversy after the Mali Watkins arrest.