OAKLAND -- The drive to adequately staff Oakland's police force has dominated city politics for two years and now is quickly emerging as a flash point in the November mayor's race.

Just days after Mayor Jean Quan announced a revised budget plan that would boost police staffing to its highest mark in more than four years, one of her opponents, Councilwoman Libby Schaaf, took to the steps of City Hall Tuesday to criticize the mayor for failing to produce the number of officers authorized in the city's current budget.

Meanwhile, another leading challenger, San Francisco State Professor Joe Tuman last week unveiled his public safety plan that includes boosting police staffing by 300 officers over six years.

The call for more officers intensified in 2012 as rising crime coincided with a steady drop in police staffing brought on by budget cuts during the Great Recession.

The city has held several academies for new recruits beginning in September 2012, but police staffing currently hovers around 650 officers. That is about one-third the size of San Francisco's police force and nearly 200 fewer officers than Oakland had at the end of 2008.

The influx of new officers so far has largely been offset by increased retirements and resignations, which has forced officers to work mandatory overtime for the past 18 months to keep patrol beats filled.

The mayor's budget plan includes funds for two additional police academies that she said would get police staffing up to 722 officers next year.

Schaaf supports funding the new academies. But, in a proposal co-sponsored by Councilman Noel Gallo, she called on the city to set up programs to alert council members when police staffing starts dropping below projections and to reduce the number of officers leaving the department.

Tuman's staffing plan is more ambitious. He wants the city to hold three police academies every year so that within six years the city would have more than 900 officers, which is the level Chief Sean Whent has said would be appropriate for a city with Oakland's level of violent crime.

Tuman said Tuesday that his plan could be funded through economic development and either selling or partnering on the development of unused public property.

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.