A Fresh Approach: OPD Revamps Patrol Structure

by Dennis Evanosky

Area Three Commander Captain Anthony Rachal has local roots and a renewed sense of hope for Oakland. Photo by Dennis Evanosky.

The Oakland Police Department (OPD) welcomed in the New Year with a new way of doing business. On January 12, the department trimmed its six command areas down to a more manageable three. Most Metro readers now live in Area 2, commanded by Captain Rick Orozco. Readers who live east of High St. live in Area 3, commanded by Captain Anthony Rachal. Area 3 includes Millsmont, High St., Fairfax, and Maxwell Park neighborhoods.'

Captain Rachal has more than a professional connection to the area he commands; his heart and his roots are here. This is where he grew up. He graduated from Bishop O'Dowd High School and attended both Merritt and Chabot colleges.'

"I see a renewed sense of hope," Rachal said when asked about the changes in the department. He especially likes the linear chain of command that goes right to his office. "I can lead my area every day and give it a common sense of purpose," he said. "We have a mission, a vision and a purpose."'

Rachal say he hopes to take training to a higher level. "I want to make the average beat officer into a real problem-solving officer."'

I've already seen this new philosophy at work in my neighborhood. A flurry of illegal activity at a particular spot recently drew the attention of our Home Alert group. The last time problems arose around the same property, it took endless meetings with the property owner, Councilmember Jean Quan's office, and OPD, supplemented with continuous prodding, to get action and a solution.'

This time I discovered an astonishing difference. It took only one call to OPD to get almost immediate results. Right after my call, Captain Orozco visited the property. He and his officers worked with the property owner, who signed a no-trespass order against the miscreants.

Then we saw Rachal's philosophy in action: a beat officer took on the role of a problem-solving officer. The same officer has visited the property at least five times to enforce the no-trespass order. The officer called me, introduced himself, and told me that he would keep an eye on the neighborhood. Not only would he watch the property in question, but he would check into some other suspicious activity he had observed.'

The problem was resolved in days (instead of months, like the last time) with no meetings, no quibbling, and no prodding.

The members of our Home Alert group certainly share Captain Rachal's renewed sense of hope.

Dennis Evanosky can be reached at evanosky\@pacbell.net