Make Oakland Better Now!’s Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire was answered by 8 of the ten candidates. All of the completed questionnaires are available for viewing at our web site, here. Since some Oaklanders may want to compare candidate responses to each of the questions, we will be publishing the responses sorted by question here at Oaktalk over the coming days. You’ll find these posts for the first six questions directly below this one. In July, the City Council laid off 80 police officers; effective January 1, the City plans to lay off 120 more unless the November ballot measures pass. Yet the Alameda County Grand Jury, the Chief of Police, and practically everyone else who has looked at the issue believes the department needs more, not fewer police officers. Today, we ask the candidates point blank: how many officers will there be at the end of your first term?
Question No. 7. At the end of your first term as mayor, how many sworn police officers do you believe Oakland should have, and what steps will you take to accomplish that goal?
Once again, this question could be factual or normative. Factually, I will likely have close to 900 officers (mid to high 800s) by the end of my first term based on the innovative police-staffing program I will describe below. Ideally, I would like to see our force strength at 11-1200 officers, but growing us to that number will likely take me into the second term of my administration—unless a major economic rebound occurs, making the city more solvent than before. Short of this, I will try to add 20 to 30 officers a year, after replacing for attrition.
To accomplish this, I think we have to re-examine how we play for policing. Oakland needs at least three to four hundred more police officers in order to provide public safety for all of our community and effectively deal with violent crime. This growth of new officers needs to occur in a manner that is fiscally sustainable. Our City Council is convinced it costs an average of $180k to pay for each officer. Because of their rigidity with this number, the Council has locked itself into either raising taxes to hire more officers at this amount, OR laying off officers so that we only have as many as we can afford for $180k/officer. I would approach this differently than the Council. I would encourage voluntary early retirement for the officers (about 15% of the force) who are 2-3 years away from retiring; then offer to hire them back at less than half time (under 1000 hours/year). They can legally be hired back as independent contractors, so long as they are less than half time. All the city would have to pay is slightly less than half their base salary; for these independent contractors, there would be no health care, no pension, no overtime, since they are on early retirement. I would then take the savings from those retirements and hire more officers at the entry level AFTER reducing base pay for new hires from $85k (what we pay now) to a lesser amount (commensurate with what other cities, like New York and Los Angeles, pay for entry-level positions). I would not touch the existing compensation of current officers, thus avoiding interest arbitration. In this system, I would not have to lay off officers, and we could actually save money and grow the force.
Open youth centers with mentors and career and college counselors at a fraction of what it costs to employ officers to lock them up. Leave the youth centers and recreation centers open until 10, and have vans available to take the youth home. With less youth potential for crime on the street, there is less need for an overabundance of officers. Those who have never managed multi-million-dollar budgets do not think outside the box in such informed and innovative ways. These are proposals brought on by experience. There are many entertainment venues that can also provide revenue for our city.
Our citizens need activities and opportunities that will divert their attentions away from crime and toward the brand new city they had always envisioned. A city with:
1) 20 Youth Centers in unused city-owned buildings in the flats (paid mentors, paid career counselors, paid college counselors, music, art, video games, etc.) that close at 10:00pm and vans to take the youth home, so they don’t violate curfew.
2) A bowling Alley – potential yield of $800,000 annually
3) A roller skating rink – potential yield of $1,000,000 annually
4) A theme park – potential yield of $150,000,000 for the city annually
5) Recreation Centers that stay open until 10:00 at night that provide vans to transport our youth home. It just sends them the message that we love them and are willing to put them ahead of things like: an $8,000,000 statue, $70,000,000 for the Fox Theater that was only supposed to cost $14,000,000, $2,000,000 more to pay unpaid workers, high-rises downtown, vacant condominiums no one wants or can afford.
6) A police force that is largely comprised of individuals from Oakland, retrained to serve the people of Oakland, treating them with respect and dignity. Any future officers hired must undergo the customer service training and live in Oakland, preferably in the flats.
7) A budget that supports a $100,000,000 Mayor’s Jobs Program, year round, with an On-the-job training component.
8. A commuter tax to bring in initial revenue to pay for programs by people from other cities who have been milking our city dry for years, taking our jobs and revenue and never spending a dime in our community.
9) A toll tax for those who enter our city just like SF, Vallejo, Palo Alto, etc. Why is it that no one has to pay to visit and plunder OUR city?
10) Apollo West for our youth performers on KTOP and KDOL, with business sponsors who will render scholarships. Yes, we have REAL talent in Oakland!
11) A grocery store in the west. A grocery store in the east (on the way).
12) Change Charter section 712 to give the mayor more control of the Port streets, so we don’t ever turn down $300,000,000 opportunities like the Wayans, who, by the way, are still interested, but are waiting for me to win.
Folks, they only put 240 police officers on the streets anyway. I think, with the solutions I have to diminish crime, some of which I have already put into practice, we will only need about 800 officers, maybe less. There are at least 12 other ways to make our streets safe.
I am the only one who offers these solutions. The others simply want to cut and tax.
817. How I will accomplish that, is by bringing in a slew of businesses, eliminating the corruption, eliminating a large portion of crime. Cutting 15-30% of homicides or more and that is a grantee. I will accomplish that by implementing my anti-litter campaign. If you could litter on the street you could steal a bike if you could steal a bike you could steal a car if you could steal the car you could break into someone’s house. That situation could become deadly.
My goal would be to have 800 by the end of my first term. As I mentioned earlier it will take a major restructuring compensation and benefits to achieve an adequate size force.
We have recently seen an example of success when Oakland reached a police force
strength of 850 officers, crime went down. With effective and consistent deployment of community policing “beat” officers we can continue to reduce crime, prevent it through visible police patrols, and build the kind of community-police relations which help solve crime and strengthen public safety for the long term. It appears that 850 officers is about the minimum needed for these goals (the current size of the Long Beach Police force, a City that shares many traits with Oakland and is regarded as a crime-reduction success, is 850 officers) and I will work to get our force back up to this number as soon as possible. In addition, I will work with the Chief to develop ongoing plans as well, including incorporating his recommendation of 950 officers, while also working to identify which new positions must be with sworn officers, and which duties could best be handled by civilians. In other words, I envision during my four year term seeking to add more than 100 personnel, but some of these personnel will be civilians, which will free up existing
officers for other work. We will need to improve recruitment and academies, and continue to strengthen the “grow our own” programs to recruit Oakland residents to become our future police officers.
I have no idea and have no target number. I think dreaming one up is just posturing.
We need to see what funding we have, we need to see what jobs become civilian and we need to do something about the large amount of overtime hours we now pay.
Oakland will have enough police officers to keep our city safe.
Refer to #6.
This depends on how effective our prevention and intervention programs are. I plan an ambitious campaign to recruit 2000 volunteers to work with the youth most in need. We have brought crime down 40% over the last 3 years. Based on the chief’s current report and the levels of violence, he believes we need about 950 officers, if we reduce crime and violence rates we need to review if that is still the number. Unless the per officer costs are brought under control we will not be able to maintain current numbers much less increase officers. I would also try to establish a lower cadet pay rate.