If you draw a straight line east from the center of the Golden Gate Bridge across the cold, current-swept San Francisco Bay just south of Alcatraz, you’ll hit Oakland, Calif. Named for the Redwood timber and hillside oaks logged to build San Francisco, Oakland is steeped in history, as this was the West Coast terminus of the intercontinental railroad, and it’s also the busiest commercial port on San Francisco Bay.

To uphold the law, the Oakland Police Department has the best equipment and training. I was along for the ride when an officer from the OPD attempted to stop a white SUV whose ownership was in question. The driver tried to flee and hit another car. The impact left the SUV disabled and smoking off the shoulder of a side street. The SUV’s driver then got out and bolted into a suburban residential area, leaving three people, including two children, sitting dazed but uninjured in the vehicle.

Arriving units quickly blocked off the intersecting roads and set up a perimeter around the area where the subject was last seen, a two-block residential area. Realizing that a thorough search was needed, the patrol officers organized themselves into Designated Arrest Teams (DATs) to clear the area, house by house, yard by yard. Each team member had a designated task, including who would use less-lethal force and who would use lethal force if necessary. Each officer had their OPD-issued GLOCK, some with their new .40-caliber GLOCK 22 Gen4 pistols and others with their .45 AUTO GLOCK 21s or 9×19 GLOCK 17s. The team included a K-9 with her handler, both trained and experienced in tracking subjects hidden in urban, suburban and wooded terrain. Briefed and armed, the DAT set out to find the hiding perp.

GLOCK Goes Airborne

Alerted by radio, a pair of sworn officers and qualified pilots, Joe Villalobos and Jon Vanerwegen, quickly prepped and took off in the McDonnell Douglas “Little Bird” helicopter to provide aerial observation and surveillance, assisting the search effort and ensuring the safety of the officers on the ground. It was evident that there was a tremendous amount of cooperation and effective communication between the ground and air assets.

From the air, it was easy to see where the officers and K-9 were heading. The chopper pilots were able to talk to the team to let them know of any danger or signs of the suspect. The first yard was cleared by the team, then the second. As they approached the third house, with the helicopter overhead, the K-9 alerted the DAT to a space between two fences in the backyard. Approaching with weapons drawn, the subject, knowing he had no place to run, surrendered without incident due to the coordinated and swift response of the OPD helicopter and the DAT—all armed with the world’s best pistol, the GLOCK.

Inside the OPD

The over 600 sworn officers of the Oakland PD deal with a diverse population of about 400,000 residents living in 56 square miles of “the Flatlands” and “the Hills.” They face similar issues of other large cities—hard drugs, gangs and crime associated with both. The residents, commuters and tourists are protected by a variety of specialty OPD units including K-9, animal services, patrol, intelligence and maritime support for the busy waterfront and over 22 square miles of inland waterways. Sworn officers, no matter their duty station, have two things in common—the excellent training that each receives at the nearby Concord range and their GLOCK sidearms.
The experienced OPD instructors at the Concord facility include Chris Saunders, who is not only an excellent range instructor but is also a certified GLOCK Armorer.

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  • T. Miller

    Oakland is my HOME. Best city in the world. Best police department in the world
    And the best pistol in the world. Just picked up your Glock 22 .40 caliber!
    Thanks for constantly improving perfection!