How Will The Candidates Bring / Restore Community Policing To Oakland?

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 seven questions directly below this one. When the City laid off officers in July, thus eliminating its right to collect Measure Y revenue, the city lost its Neighborhood Beat Officers and the functions of the NSC’s were consolidated.  Here, the candidates respond to MOBN!’s question about community policing.

Question No. 8.            In recent years, key components of community policing in Oakland have been the interactions between the Measure Y Neighborhood Beat Officers, Neighborhood Safety Coordinators, community members and Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils.  The Neighborhood Beat Officers have now been eliminated, and the functions of the NSC’s have been consolidated.  To what extent do you believe community policing is important, and if you believe it is important, how can it be accomplished in Oakland?

Candell:

Community policing is important, because individuals in the community can relate better to individuals in the community. Therefore, potentially hostile situations are met with less resistance, when peaceful solutions are presented as alternatives. So, hire Oakland first and train Measure Y Safety Coordinators to be more effective in their tasks.

Fields:

Again, it is extremely important, it is one of the keys. People need to support from the top but they don’t need people to plan from the top.

Harland:

Since I first came here, as a young boy in 1954 the city has never had a police department sufficient to its size. My first priority will be to build a department of 1050 officers. With a force of only 50 to 60% of what is necessary you can’t deploy neighborhood beat officers or NCS’s. My first and main concern will be building a 1050 officer force.

Kaplan:

I fully and strongly support community policing, specifically the importance of assigning officers to regular beats so that they get to know a specific area, and are better able to solve crimes and improve community police relations. I oppose the cuts to “problem solving officers”, also known as neighborhood beat officers. Not only have  eighborhood Beat Officers been eliminated and NSCs cut (and there are proposals for entirely eliminating the NSCs), but the budgets of the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils have been cut, so it is no longer possible for NCPCs to communicate with their neighbors without raising funds to cover postage and copying, a significant challenge in many neighborhoods. I strongly believe in community policing and I do not think that eliminating these community policing functions is the right way to proceed. Neighborhood beat officers are a small percentage of the overall force and have been proven effective, and NSCs are a great example of how civilians working for the police department can have a significant impact on crime. We must strengthen the bonds of the community and police department, and beat officers are an important part of this.

Macleay:

I am an avid member of my own NCPC, a strong supporter of Beat Officers and the Problem Solving Officers. My own now works somewhere else. These last layoffs, followed by the decision to sacrifice community policing in favor of patrol duty has done a lot of damage. This is a case of short term, hand to mouth; budget thinking causing us to lose much of what has been painstakingly accomplished over the last few years.

You can find my statement on public safety here:

http://macleay4mayor.org/macleay-on-public-saftey.pdf

To answer the question directly, I think the public outreach is the LAST thing that they should ever cut and for some reason it is always the first one. There is no law enforcement – crime study to support doing this. The research on restorative justice is the same. At its worst, restorative justice never does worse than the current revolving door jail criminal justice system at its best.

I agree with the goals of Prop Y, but not Prop Y itself.

To start with community policing and community sentencing COST LESS than standard policing.

So why do we need more funds to make this policy work?

Richmond did not, they are saving money and making headway using community policing and did not need any Prop Y equivalent to get going. They just got a mayor and a council that would stick to the policy and hired a chief of police who wants to do it. http://articles.sfgate.com/2009-01-13/bay-area/17198437_1_patrol-districts-richmond-police-address-problems

I plan to be such a mayor.

Perata:

Again, Refer to #6.

Quan:

As a major author of Measure Y and strong supporter of community policing, re-establishing beat officers is a priority in addition for more geographical accountability/assignment for all officers. I will do my best to continue Neighborhood Service Coordinators and support of Neighborhood Councils in every beat.

Tuman:

After examining this issue and discussing it with numerous members of our city, I am persuaded that the term community policing actually means different things to different people. For some, it references a perception that the police are part of the problem in our community and requires greater civilian and community control. For others, it references a desire to have greater civilian volunteer efforts with police in parts of our community to assist reporting of crime. For many, community policing is really just about the logic of having dedicated problem solving officers (PSOs) and beat cops. My guess is that your question references the latter of these three. I support this concept completely, especially because it creates a human interfacing between the community and representatives of the OPD. This kind of community policing creates relationships and builds trust. I would continue this in my administration. At the same time, I want to observe what many police officers have also shared with me. In a time of staff shortages, having dedicated PSOs and beat cops who are only assigned to their districts or beats becomes an expensive luxury when a priority one call comes through and there are not enough officers to respond. During a time of transition to more officers, I will continue community policing, but I would ask for some public understanding if PSOs and beat cops have to occasionally help out in emergencies and urgent situations.

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