Oakland's police staffing has dipped to its lowest level in over a decade and will continue dropping until a new academy graduates in January.

The city has 631 officers, Chief Howard Jordan told the City Council's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. That's down from 643 earlier this summer and a high of 837 officers four years ago. The department projects that staffing will dip to 612 officers before about 40 cadets graduate in January.

To bolster the dwindling force, the department is mandating overtime, moving problem solving officers into crime reduction teams and consolidating patrol to allow more officers to be deployed citywide.

The lack of officers could impact the push for a youth curfew. In its updated crime reduction plan released this week, the department cautioned that staffing won't allow for regular enforcement of a curfew and questioned whether sufficient resources existed to provide resource centers for children picked up late at night.

Despite the cautionary report, Jordan said the department still hoped assemble resource centers and implement a curfew sometime next year, likely using officers on overtime to enforce the curfew. The curfew enforcement would only be on selected nights.

Oakland police union seeks to intervene

The Oakland police union filed a motion Friday seeking to intervene in court proceedings regarding the potential federal takeover of the police department.

The motion filed with U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson states that the union had a major interest in the proceeding because the appointment of a federal receiver for the department could impact the union's contract with the city. The union cautioned that if a receivership is established for the department without it being able to be party to the proceedings, "there is a great likelihood of further protracted legal proceedings. ..."

San Leandro names HR manager

LaTanya Bellow has been appointed city human resources manager.

San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata praised Bellow's experience

"She's a seasoned human resources professional," he said. "She's had diverse experience in government, such as Alameda County and California State University, and most recently, Hayward.

Bellow, an East Bay native, has been Hayward's human resource manager for almost two years. Before that, she worked as a principal analyst at Alameda County Superior Court and was human resources manager at California State University East Bay Foundation.

Bellow will start in San Leandro on Monday. In her new job, she will oversee six employees, and report directly to the city manager.

She has a bachelor's in business administration and a master's in public administration, both from Cal State East Bay.

Fremont hires downtown project manager

Jessica von Borck has been hired as Fremont's downtown project manager, a newly created position that will pay her an annual salary of $122,500.

Von Borck formerly served as Los Gatos' economic vitality manager and worked on urban planning and economic development for the city of Mountain View, said Cheryl Golden, a Fremont spokeswoman.

In both cities, von Borck's focus was on downtown development, Golden said.

City officials said Von Borck will help Fremont create a vibrant urban mixed-use area within the City Center district.

Oakland's legal payouts way down

The city cut in half the cost of payouts from claims and lawsuits last fiscal year, according to a report released Friday by City Attorney Barbara Parker.

Payouts dropped from a record high of $12.8 million in 2010-11 to $6.05 million last fiscal year.

Payouts in police-related cases tumbled from $7.65 million two years ago to $2.89 million last year. Payouts also fell in other categories.

Legal payouts cost the city $5.4 million in 2009-2010 and $6.15 million the prior year.

Oakland's crime lab gets grant

The city is getting a $408,000 federal grant to reduce the backlog of cases in its crime lab, which was the subject of a deeply critical civil grand jury report earlier this year.

The grant will pay for two full-time employees, who will help decrease turnaround time for analyzing biological evidence to under 100 days and decrease the backlog of cases by at least 170. To fully staff the crime lab, Oakland would need to hire 13 workers at a cost of $1.3 million.

The Alameda County grand jury in June issued a report that found Oakland's crime lab was antiquated and severely understaffed, resulting in a backlog of more than 2,000 cases.

County law enforcement officials have yet to respond to the grand jury's recommendation that one consolidated crime lab be established in Alameda County.