I downloaded a police scanner app on my iPhone to listen to the Oakland Police Department calls.

After listening daily for just over one month on my 30-minute BART commute (each way) I hear daily calls for service for: iPhone robberies, laptop robberies, purse snatchings, burglaries, children forgotten and reportedly hungry and neglected at their after-school center, car chases, shootings and stabbings.

I have heard that people are robbed at gunpoint for anything, including one person who was robbed of $5 at gunpoint.

OPD responds to people who are mentally ill, attempted suicides, suicides, attempted murders, murders. OPD gets calls for people reported with the following weapons: baseball bats, knives, handguns, rifles, shotguns, swords, and butcher knives.

The dispatchers handle all of this work professionally and with courtesy. They greet their co-worker officers with, "good morning" and "good night" on the radio as their shift begins and ends. They don't lose composure when (as I heard recently) a 13-year-old boy, home alone, had locked himself in the upstairs bathroom as he heard someone breaking down the front door of his house and burglarizing it. That is terrifying to even think about.

As residents, visitors and employees who work in Oakland, we are asking these officers to come toward the danger, to go into a home that clearly a burglar and terrified young man were both inside of. We ask them to deal with a person, without any clothes on, waving a sword at pedestrians walking by. We want them to help us with problems that no one else wants to even think about.

The following is what I believe the OPD needs to be more effective:

1) More officers so that they don't have to break. (Leave other calls for more urgent ones).

2) Better, more robust in-car computers. The computers appear to be unreliable at best. Rebooting the entire city in-car system is often necessary.

3) Some lower-cost, efficient way to respond to 911 hang-ups and burglar alarm calls. Can't this be outsourced? These types of calls appear to often be a waste of resources.

4) A helicopter, in the air 24/7. Nobody has said on-air that they want this, but I have heard them ask if it was up/working with a response of negative. I understand it is expensive, but it is useful in so many ways.

5) Bulk prisoner transfers. Isn't there a better way to transport prisoners all the way to the Santa Rita Jail so that OPD doesn't lose those sworn officers from the street for the possibly two hours it takes to do the transfer?

6) Members of the public to cooperate with them. By being a witness, making a report, voting for funding, volunteering your time to OPD, creating a neighborhood watch on your block and staying alert and safe. We can all help them, directly and indirectly.

I grew up in Oakland and currently work there. I have seen Oakland decline in many aspects. But I believe there is still hope. I enjoy listening to Oakland Police Department work so professionally and bravely. I hope that you can also listen in, and hear firsthand what a great police department they really are.

Robert Hoffman is a Castro Valley resident.