Time For Oakland And Its Cops To Start Talking

Many Oaklanders breathed a sigh of relief when Chief Batts announced he was not going to San Jose.  But most of us understand he won’t be long for Oakland unless everyone involved in providing public safety to the City is pulling in the same direction.   Chief Batts has publicly stated he isn’t sure that he and Oakland are a good fit;  he recognizes the city’s financial difficulties, but questions whether the City is prepared to do what it takes to make all of our citizens safe.

Make Oakland Better Now! believes there are some steps Oakland can and must take to get us on track.  MOBN! has written Mayor Quan, the City Council and the OPOA, urging as follows:

  • We need a new approach to negotiations between the city and its officers, using a mutually respected third-party mediator, and a negotiation of every possible issue, not just pension contributions.
  • This time, both sides should agree to keep their negotiations, and their personal views about each other, confidential.
  • The City should immediately and unilaterally rehire thirty officers.  The funding will be difficult, but the extra cost will be short-term, given the current attrition rate of five to ten officers per month.  Assuming attrition of 30 officers over six months, the net cost of adding 30 officers could be less than $1 million.
  • The City should fund police academies on an ongoing, annual basis, to ensure that the Department does not continue to shrink.
  • The city should make enhanced policing its highest priority for seeking grants and other outside funding.  We are pleased to see that Council President Reid is proposing just this at the February 1 council meeting.

For too long,  Oakland’s public safety dialog has been framed as a contest between advocates for community policing and crime prevention programs on the one hand and and supporters of adequate police staffing on the other.  We believe that all three are essential to public safety.  If public safety is job one, then the City’s highest priority is providing for all the elements that will make Oakland safer, including sufficient police staffing.   A new cooperative effort among all the stakeholders with the aid of a mediator, is the most important first step Oakland can take toward making us safer.

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6 responses to “Time For Oakland And Its Cops To Start Talking

  1. Agreed.

    We also need a letter writing campagin to tell Mayor Quan and the Council that we want them to fully support OPD.

  2. Agree with both comments above. The letter writing campaign to tell Mayor Quan and the Council to publicly and fully support OPD is extremely important. Chief Batts is highly competent and it would be a disaster to lose him now given the state of public safety — deplorable and dangerous everywhere. Searching for a new chief now is not a viable idea — Jean Quan notwithstanding.

    A couple of Sundays ago, I and friends lunched at Jack London Square as we do on occasion, and also purchased at the Farmer’s Market. The restaurant was wonderful, both in food quality and atmosphere and the Farmer’s Market was also just great — live musicians and excellent products. What was missing?? The customers! Both the restaurant and the market were nearly deserted (and the weather was very fine)!

    First of all, for out-of-towners, the combination of having no clear freeway or street signs directing them in and out of Jack London is shameful. Second, do not think for a minute that Oakland’s reputation for murder is not keeping them away! Soon, there will be no nice restaurants or Farmer’s Market at Jack London for lack of customers — just like the Barnes & Nobel bookstore — still empty! WHEN is Oakland going to wake up and do the right thing? First, clean up the crime and then help legitimate businesses get a start!

  3. Letter-writing campaigns are good; personal appearances at council are even better. We’ll be delivering the message Tuesday night, February 1 at City Hall, third floor, at 5:30. Why not come out and join us? My personal view is that we simply have to keep sending this message.

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