Budget Bits Returns: Shaping Oakland’s 2017-2019 Budget

Oakland Budget

Oakland 2017-2019 Budget Preparation Begins

For many years and several budget cycles, Make Oakland Better Now! has provided Oakland residents with tools to help understand the city budget. We’re proud to dive into the numbers again this year, as Oakland’s Mayor, City Administrator, and City Council move toward adoption of the 2017-2019 budget. Continue reading

New Year, New Police Chief

Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick

After 7 months and a nationwide search,  Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that Anne Kirkpatrick will be the new Chief of Oakland Police Department. (Read coverage from the East Bay Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and East Bay Express.)

“I think it’s the greatest opportunity in American policing today,” Kirkpatrick said at a press conference. (Watch full video of the event on KTVU or East Bay Times.) Kirkpatrick plans to start in late February.

Kirkpatrick is the former chief of Ellensberg, Federal Way and Spokane, Washington,  having served as chief for five years or more in each (the average tenure for a chief in a major American city is less than 3 years). She most recently worked for the Chicago Police Department, where she was hired in June to oversee police reform efforts. She will also be OPD’s first female chief, although she downplayed that, observing that the qualities of character needed to make a good chief (e.g., integrity, character, decisiveness, etc) are all gender neutral.

Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick

The recruitment process began last summer and involved dozens of input sessions and surveys. Results showed that the community was looking for a candidate with integrity and a strong record of crime reduction, as well a someone who could “lead cultural change.” (Read the full results of Chief of Police Community Survey.)

Kirkpatrick has already promised to be this kind of leader and said she would listen to Oakland’s needs. During the press conference, she emphasized the importance of moving forward and vowed the OPD would continually improve. OPD would learn from recent scandal, she said, and would not “retreat” from NSA compliance.

“Reform is where we have policies, procedures, and we direct behavior. I am more interested in transformation. That’s the change in thinking, that’s the cultural change.”

Among other things, Chief Kirkpatrick stated that early on, she would be meeting with Robert Warshaw, the Court-appointed monitor, to reach agreement on exactly what will constitute compliance with the remaining tasks. Make Oakland Better Now! believes that after years of the monitor’s invoking compliance requirements that are nowhere to be found in the NSA, effectively moving the goal posts, this kind of negotiation will be critical.

Chief Kirkpatrick will be starting on February 27. At her press conference and before, she stated that she will devote much energy to reaching out to all aspects of the community and learning as much as she can about Oakland. She noted that ever since leaving her first police job in Tennessee, she has been an outsider, she has always been successful, and will strive to get Oaklanders to be so happy with her performance that they urgently want her to stay. And as part of her work to reach out, she will be participating in ridealongs with officers throughout the city.

The news of Chief Kirpatrick’s appointment comes less than 24 hours after Mayor Schaaf announced that starting January 9, Venus D. Johnson will become Director of Public Safety, an important position that will lead the effort to “break cycles of violence in Oakland through effective crime prevention coupled with smart and principled policing.”

It’s been a long wait. The new Director of Public Safety and Police Chief come at a crucial time in Oakland’s fight against violent crime. 2016, versus previous years, saw almost no change in violent crime, with murders down just 4%, homicides and injury shooting down only 5%.

The people of Oakland deserve much better. But we are hopeful. Make Oakland Better Now is ready to work, to do everything we can to support Police Chief Kirkpatrick and Director of Public Safety Johnson, two respected and capable leaders. It’s a new year, and the city’s taken a important first step in making our city safer in 2017.

Police Commission Measure: Exactly What Did the Council Just Do?

Last month, the City Council passed a resolution putting a police commission measure on this November’s ballot. (Read recent coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Express, and East Bay Times.)

The new commission will differ in a number of important ways from the existing Citizens’ Police Review Board. It will possess subpoena power. The charter provides for mandatory staffing of one investigator for every 100 officers. By a 5-2 vote, it can fire the Police Chief for cause (with “cause” to be defined by enabling legislation). It nominates future chiefs, and the Mayor chooses from the nominated candidates. And it has policy-setting powers to “accept or reject” OPD policies related to use of force, profiling, and First Amendment assemblies. It’s already been called one of the strongest police commissions in the nation.

Like most individuals and organizations involved in this debate, we believe this measure is a terrific step forward, and we will support it. But there’s still much work to be done.

Continue reading

Oakland’s Police Commission: Where We Stand

Oakland City Council will be considering a ballot measure establishing a police commission, civilian inspector general, and Community Police Review Agency at its meeting on Tuesday, July 19 at 5pm.

We posted about this measure on our blog when it was going to the Public Safety Committee last month. (There’s also been plenty of local news coverage from San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Times, and East Bay Express.)

We’ve reviewed the Police Commission Charter Amendment in full, the most recent revision, and a red-lined revision from the Alameda County Labor Council. Exactly what will go to Council for a vote remains unclear, but here is what we know so far: Continue reading

Public Safety Committee Considers New Police Commission

Last week was very hard for Oakland: Police Chief Sean Whent resigned and was immediately replaced by an Interim Chief Benson Fairow, formerly Deputy Chief of BART Police, and a deeply disturbing scandal — involving a possible cover-up — detailed abuse and misconduct by OPD officers.

And it is in this environment that the Public Safety Committee will meet on Tuesday, June 14 at 4:00 p.m. to debate a new charter amendment establishing a strong police commission and other mechanisms of police oversight. The meeting is at Oakland City Hall, Sgt. Mark Dunakin Hearing Room, First Floor.

The details of the proposal under consideration, introduced by Council Members Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo, are available here and here.

While an alternate measure (read here and here) by Council Members Annie Campbell-Washington, Abel Guillén and Larry Reid is also on the agenda, both Campbell-Washington and Guillén announced on Facebook Sunday afternoon that they would withdraw the proposal.

Make Oakland Better Now! has spent a great deal of time researching this issue. Our analysis is in a rather lengthy and detailed letter to the Public Safety Committee, and we will be presenting our recommendations at Tuesday’s meeting. But here are some of the key points: Continue reading

The Mayor’s Safe Oakland Series Explores “Fair and Just Policing”

Mayor Libby Schaff’s Safe Oakland series has explored tough topics such as community policing and trust-building, and the presentations often address how the city and police department are collaborating with policymakers, academics, and community activists to improve public safety.

The most recent event in the series, “Fair and Just Policing” with Yale Law professor Tracey Meares, continued this important dialogue. Meares, who served on President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, shared insights from recent studies on criminal justice and looked at the intersection between social psychology and law. Continue reading

Answering Your Questions About Ceasefire: Part 3

We’ve been publishing answers to the questions our audience submitted at January’s Ceasefire Summit.  (Read parts one and two here and here.) In our third and final installment, we have a lengthy response from California Partnership for Safe Communities to a question about how Oakland identifies those at highest risk for violence. Thanks to Stewart Wakeling, Vaughan Crandall and Daniella Gilbert for the thorough response, and thanks again to all of our panelists for participating and for the follow-up answers.

For CPSC: How did you estimate 300 very-highest risk? Is this 300 un-duplicated per year?Anonymous

This working estimate is drawn from the Oakland Problem and Opportunity Analysis (PA), authored jointly by the California Partnership for Safe Communities and the Oakland Police Department.

The PA began with a structured and in-depth review of every homicide that occurred during 2012 and the first six months of 2013 (a total of 171 incidents), the victims and suspects involved in those incidents, and the networks to which those individuals were connected.  Each step in the analysis combines the expertise of front-line officers (qualitative information) with trend data and other quantitative information to produce an accurate and detailed account of local violence. The methodology behind this approach to data collection and analysis has been carefully developed by leading criminologists and practitioners over the past 20 years and is considered national best practice.

Specifically, this figure is drawn from what is sometimes referred to as a group or network audit. We found the following:

  1. There are approximately 50 violent groups in Oakland, with an estimated active membership of 1000 – 1200 people. This is approximately 0.3% of the entire city’s population.
  2. Of active groups in Oakland, only a small subset of the groups are at highest risk of violence – 18 groups – and, citywide,  approximately 300  individuals from these groups were associated with a majority of group-involved violence. We think these are unduplicated as per the question above.
  3. We refer to this as a working estimate to emphasize the figure is somewhat elastic. CPSC will complete an updated problem analysis in 2016.

OPD conducts weekly shooting reviews to maintain a real time assessment of who is at very highest risk of violence. Weekly shooting reviews over the course of Ceasefire implementation to date suggest that the estimate of 300 individuals at very highest risk of gun violence per year is an accurate one.

Shooting reviews are regular and frequent meetings, during which experienced and knowledgeable practitioners come together as a working group to analyze recent shootings. While there are variations, a shooting review combines analysis, strategy development and implementation. In this way, it serves as a useful management meeting.

  • Analysis: understanding and monitoring risk. Practitioners begin their discussion of each incident with basic information available on each shooting, including the date, time, location and individuals involved. Then, a mid-level manager, often assisted by a researcher, facilitates the meeting, systematically working through a series of analytic questions regarding those involved in the shootings, shooting circumstances and motives, and information on the individuals’ involvement in relevant street networks and relationships with a particular focus on potential retaliation.
  • Strategy Development: shaping and managing a near-term response. The facilitator follows this analysis with a purposeful but exploratory discussion of how to respond. One of the most important products of shooting reviews is the identification of individuals at highest risk of violence and the development of a plan for addressing that risk, along with a work plan describing who will do what and when. Subsequent meetings begin with a review of the prior meeting’s work plan.

In summary, a problem analysis is conducted periodically (every few years) to tailor the overall approach to local needs, priorities and resources, laying a foundation for strategy development and evaluation. In contrast, shooting reviews – whether convened by criminal justice agencies or outreach and support staff – are used to refine strategies in real time and manage their implementation.