Analysis: Oakland Police Department’s New Strategic Plan

OPD's New Strategic Plan

Oaklanders who attended the Make Oakland Better Now! Ceasefire Summit heard some mention of the Oakland Police Department’s new “Strategic Plan.”  This plan, posted on OPD’s website with no fanfare on December 31, replaces the previous strategic plan, issued by former Police Chief Anthony Batts in 2010—and not heard of again after Chief Batts left the department in 2011.

We’ve spent some time studying the plan, and we see a lot of progress and positive goals.  Continue reading

Miss the Ceasefire Summit? Watch It Here!


Thank you to everyone who joined us at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church for our first Operation Ceasefire SummitIt was a valuable discussion on how City Hall, the police, and community are working together to make Oakland safer.

A special thanks to all our panelists:
• Rev. Damita Davis-Howard
• Ceasefire Consultant Stewart Wakeling
• OPD Police Chief Sean Whent
• Captain Ersie Joyner
• Vaughn Crandall, Senior Partner at National Network for Safe Communities
• California Partnership for Safe Communities’ Daniela Gilbert
• Ceasefire Manager Reygan Harmon
• Department of Human Services Director Sara Bedford
• Department of Human Services Manager Peter Kim

Thank you for educating Oaklanders and for what you do to help save lives.

We’ll be posting more photos, sharing slides from the California Partnership for Safe Communities presentation, and answering some questions we weren’t able to get to during the Q&A.

Watch the full video from the Ceasefire Summit below.

Positive Change for Ceasefire in Oakland


Just about everyone who reads OakTalk, gets Make Oakland Better Now!’s e-mails, or follows us on Facebook knows that we are hosting an Operation Ceasefire Summit tomorrow, Saturday, January 9 at 2:00 p.m., at the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church (3434 Lakeshore Avenue).

But what just about nobody knows – and we didn’t learn until recently – is that there was a major change in how Operation Ceasefire is run. Last October, with no publicity at all, Mayor Libby Schaaf issued an “Executive Directive” bringing a much higher level of accountability to Ceasefire management.

We’ve made the entire directive available here, and we’ll be asking members of the Ceasefire team about it at the summit.  But here are some of the elements we really like:

• OPD is to establish a Ceasefire Management Team (“CMT’) consisting of Captains, Lieutenants, and the Ceasefire Coordinator (Reygan Harmon, who will be on our panel), reporting to the Chief.

The CMT is to meet weekly with the Chief, and sometimes other OPD management and representatives of the Mayor’s office to review plans and action steps. And OPD is to prioritize full staffing of units under the direction of the CMT, including Crime Reduction Teams (“CRT’s”.)

• Harmon, who has until now reported to the Chief, will be jointly detailed to the Chief and the Mayor’s office, and will become both Ceasefire project director and interim public safety policy director for violence reduction. This is important, because it keeps the Mayor’s office directly involved in Ceasefire management, making her directly responsible for the strategy’s success.

• The Human Services Department, which is responsible for much of the services element of Ceasefire, is directed to report to the Mayor by the end of 2015 on the following:

– Developing a citywide outreach and support program that reduces the risk of violence consistent with Measure Z guidelines.

– The continued development of existing shooting reviews and Case Conferences, as well as the adoption and ongoing development of Safety Plans.

– Advising on how Measure Z case managers, Leadership Advisory Council, and related elements from multiple agencies will be integrated into a cohesive program under the Ceasefire initiative.

• HSD is also directed to prioritize case management capacity by taking measures such as prioritizing cases based on risk of violence, accelerating the hiring of new case managers, and working with existing contractors to create additional slots.

• OPD is directed to have a dedicated Ceasefire crime analyst in place by April 1, 2016.

• A problem analysis focused on robbery is to be in place by July 1, 2016.

• A contract for rigorous academic evaluation of Ceasefire (to be funded under Measure Z) is to be in place by May 1, 2016.

• And, “Recognizing that only in those cities in which Ceasefire is institutionalized are reductions sustained over time – OPD and HSD shall work with the Ceasefire Coordinator and CPSC [California Partnership for Safe Communities, whose Stewart Wakeling will be on our panel] to develop comprehensive and detailed plans regarding Ceasefire institutionalization and sustainability by September 1, 2016.”

As we said, we like this Executive Directive, particularly its focus on deadlines and accountability for all the players in this important collaborative community safety effort. And since we know that Ceasefire has failed in other cities where it has been abandoned after being treated as the flavor of the month, we really like the focus on institutionalization and sustainability.

We’ll have lots to ask our panelists about on Saturday, and look forward to seeing as many Oaklanders as possible.

Date: Saturday, January 9, 2016
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA
RSVP on Facebook:

Save the date: Operation Ceasefire Summit on Jan. 9

Operation Ceasefire Summit

Happy New Year Oaklanders!  We all want 2016 to be the year Oakland sees a major reduction in violent crime. There are many steps needed to make that happen, but one of them is expansion and improvement of Oakland’s Operation Ceasefire Strategy.

Please join Make Oakland Better Now! for our first Operation Ceasefire Summit on Saturday, January 9th at 2:00pm.

Members of Oakland’s Ceasefire team will examine crime fighting strategies and new community policing efforts. They’ll also answer tough questions: Is the City doing enough to stop gun violence? Is Ceasefire working?

Panelists include:

• Chief of Police Sean Whent
• Police Captain Ersie Joyner
• Ceasefire Manager Reygan Harmon
• Department of Human Services Director Sara Bedford
• Department of Human Services Manager Peter Kim
• Ceasefire Consultant Stewart Wakeling
• Rev. Damita Davis-Howard

Date: Saturday, January 9, 2016
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA
RSVP on Facebook:

More about event:
As a centerpiece of Oakland’s violence reduction strategy, Ceasefire brings together data-driven crime fighting strategies, community engagement, and community policing in a focused effort to reduce gun violence among Oakland’s gangs. It’s a strategy many Oakland community groups, including MOBN!, have strongly supported, and for two years it appeared to help produce significant results.

But with little improvement in violent crime in 2015, and homicides slightly up, we at MOBN! believe it’s time to ask tough questions: Is Ceasefire still working? If it is, what else is going wrong? If it isn’t, how can we help get it back on track?

We’ll have a full, frank and no-holds barred discussion of this critical element of the City’s plan to reduce community violence: What’s working? What’s not? What needs to change? What will success look like?

This is a critical conversation at a turning point in the fight for community safety in Oakland. Please join us, invite your friends and  neighbors and anyone who cares about safety in our city.

Useful links:
Ceasefire Oakland
Mayor’s State of the City Address: What the Mayor Said About Public Safety
San Francisco Chronicle: Getting Oaklanders to lay down their guns


Important Public Safety Committee meeting on gun control

gun control

On Tuesday, December 15, the Oakland’s Public Safety Committee will consider new gun control measures that will ban the possession of large capacity magazines and require the safe storage of firearms.

These ordinances were proposed by councilmembers Dan Kalb, Annie Campbell Washington and Rebecca Kaplan earlier this month. (Read a summary of the ordinances at KTVU and the East Bay Express.)

The NRA is rallying supporters to speak out against these new ordinances, and we are asking that you come out to this meeting, so the NRA is not the only voice in the room.

About gun control in Oakland:

It is currently against the law to purchase large capacity magazines, which allow a gun to be fired many times without reloading. The proposed ordinance would also ban the possession of these instruments of mass killings. Large Capacity Magazines are not used for hunting; their only use is to kill large numbers of people at once.

At a recent press conference, OPD Chief Sean Whent said that the ability to confiscate these magazines, if they are found in someone’s possession, is an important tool for police.

In addition, Allison Anderman of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, stated that “by prohibiting the possession of these types of magazines, people who mean to do harm will have a significantly harder time acquiring them. In fact, a Washington Post study showed that when the federal law prohibiting possession of large capacity magazines was in effect, use of firearms with those magazines dropped dramatically.”

The safe storage of firearms is extremely important. Due to the unsafe storage of guns, children find the guns and then shoot themselves or others. In fact, in the U.S. more children than cops are killed by guns. (For more, read this Business Insider article.)

These ordinances call for safe gun storage in homes and in vehicles. Chief Whent, when asked how this would be enforced, stated that these measures allow police to intervene when they see a gun in plain sight, stored unsafely, in a car or in a home. This is an important tool in helping to keep Oakland safe.

About Oakland’s Public Safety Committee:

The Public Safety Committee meets in the Sgt. Mark Dunakin hearing room, which is on the first floor of the Oakland City Hall. The meeting starts at 6PM, but given that these three ordinances are at the end of the agenda, you will not need to be there until later.

Parking is free in the structure to the side of City Hall, at the corner of 14th St. and Clay St; the entrance is from Clay St. When you enter the parking structure, get the “coin” and get it validated at the front of the meeting room.

You can fill out a speaker card online or get a card at the meeting and submit it before the agenda item is called. These ordinances are agenda items 10, 11 and 12.

Understanding OPD’s New $1 Million Gun Tracing Plan

Last week, the Public Safety Committee met to discuss the Oakland Police Department’s $1 million spending plan to reduce gun violence and trafficking over the next two years. (Watch the full discussion here and read the Oakland Tribune’s summary of the plan.)

With this new budget allocation, OPD will hire a police records specialist and two crime analysts, plus fund overtime for a team that will investigate ShotSpotter calls. The department will also invest in new equipment: three gun microscope cameras, a gun laser scanner, and other technology to support gun database entry and automation.

You can see a breakdown of the costs below.


(Read OPD’s full informational report here: Implementation of a $1M Gun Tracing Allocation in FY 2015-2017 Budget.)

The committee agreed that the new equipment is absolutely necessary and replaces time-consuming analysis and outdated technology. “Picture an 1800s camera, where you have to stand still and not smile. That’s where we’re at,” said Lieutenant Brandon Wehrly, from OPD’s Criminal Investigations Division.

The new scanners and cameras mean better forensics, efficient investigations, and stronger cases against illegal gun owners and traffickers.

But there was some disagreement, and confusion, about the new personnel. Councilmember Desley Brooks, the chair of the public safety committee, questioned the costs. Would these hires turn into an “ongoing obligation” for Oakland? Would there be a clear way to measure their impact?

During the meeting, it was reemphasized that this is a pilot program. The two crime analyst positions are limited to two years and will only be extended after assessment by the City Council. Additionally, if funding for the police records specialist is not renewed, it will be absorbed into OPD filling a vacant position.

There was also some dispute over the overtime funding for the ShotSpotter team.  Councilmember Abel Guillén asked why not hire more officers or staff instead of paying out $360,000 in overtime?

“Hiring more cops is great,” councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, a strong advocate for the plan, told Oakland North, “but because this is a two-year pilot program, it takes two years to hire a cop.

“The specific concern…was that overtime costs more than hiring new cops. But it actually doesn’t, because for each new cop you have not only the salary but medical, dental, vision, retirement, uniform, equipment, cars.”

The importance of turning ShotSpotter data into action is clear. In 2015, ShotSpotter has been activated just under 2,900 times—sometimes about 30 incidents a day. OPD’s Assistant Police Chief Paul Figueroa said that while this gunfire doesn’t always result in injuries, getting officers out in the community, to “knock on doors,” is an important way of building trust.

In the end councilmember Kaplan, who took credit for pushing City Council to approve the $1 million budget, said the plan is about better gun control and reducing gun violence at the source.

“Every time there’s a murder people ask, ‘Did he hate this guy?’ or ‘Where did he know him from?’ or ‘How did this happen?’ But every shooting happened because there was a gun…and the widespread, easy proliferation of illegal guns in our community is a serious public safety threat.”

Tonight, the City Council will review the informational report and weigh in.

Mayor’s State of the City Address: Accountability, Infrastructure, and Housing


In our last post we analyzed Mayor Libby Schaaf’s strategy for “holistic community safety” outlined in her State of the City address. Today, we’ll continue our discussion, looking at her other three stated top priorities: responsive, trustworthy government, sustainable infrastructure, and equitable jobs and housing. 

Responsive, trustworthy government 

The Mayor’s total policy discussion on accountability was as follows:

“I could tell you about our transparency and ‘gov 2.0’ projects—like our Digital Front Door website redesign, our employee civic lab or plans for a 3-1-1 call center, but it really starts with the people.”

She then praised top staff members, the City Administrator, and other recent additions to her team.

Our take:
We don’t criticize the Mayor for publicly and openly supporting her people—that’s an important part of leadership. But we call for more emphasis on policy. A starting point might be these initiatives from her campaign white paper on how to “bring Oakland government into the 21st Century”:

What I Will Do 

Implement 311 System for better service delivery:
Do you know what number to call to report illegal dumping or a pothole? Most big cities use a 3-1-1 system to make it easy for residents to request help from their government. As Mayor I will implement a world-class 311 customer service center that transitions the City to a new generation of technology that centralizes citizen requests and makes the process and resolution of each request accessible to the public 24/7 on our website.

CityStat and the Office of Strategic Performance:
I will link the 311 service request system with a CityStat performance accountability system led by a newly established Office of Strategic Performance (see Louisville, Kentucky for a good model). I will work with department heads to establish clear performance measures and nurture a culture of continuous improvement within City Hall. In pursuit of this goal, OSP will help City departments and agencies deliver high quality services to citizens in a cost-efficient and transparent manner. Three core efforts include strategic planning, performance management, continuous improvement consulting and training. We can save on technology procurement dollars by conducting internal and external user research to scope projects more efficiently, determine what the needs are and design a scope of work to fulfill those needs. Too often contracts are signed without a clear understanding of the pain points, and key opportunities to solve actual problems are missed.

Sometime soon, Oaklanders should hear about where we stand on these efforts.

More after the break. Continue reading