Last week, Oakland moved a step closer to having a real Cease Fire program. The Oakland City Council’s Public Safety Committee, the Chief of Police and Mayor Quan’s Senior Policy Advisor for Public Safety all acknowledged that Oakland’s past efforts at Cease Fire had been inadequate and that they understood the difference between past efforts and a real, Cincinnati / Boston / Stockton style Cease Fire program. All of them publicly committed to implementing a real Cease Fire program by this June. If they really do this, it could be a game changer.
Make Oakland Better Now! has advocated for a real Cease Fire program in Oakland for nearly three years, and has posted information about the program on multiple occasions, most recently here and here. The results of real Cease Fire can be stunning: Ten out of eleven cities whose fully implemented programs have been studied experienced dramatic reductions in the targeted and measured outcomes, whether they measured murders, shootings, drug offenses or recidivism:
Boston Operation Ceasefire -63% youth homicide
Indianapolis IVRP -34% total homicide
Stockton Operation Peacekeeper -42% gun homicide
Lowell PSN -44% gun assaults
Cincinnati CIRV -36% GMI homicide
Newark Ceasefire NS reduction in gunshot wound incidents
LA Operation Ceasefire Sig. short-term reduct. in gun crime
Chicago PSN – 37% homicide, 30% recidivism rate
Nashville DMI – 56% reduction in drug offenses
Rockford DMI -22% nonviolent offenses
Hawaii HOPE -26% recidivism rate
On Tuesday, April 24, Police Chief Howard Jordan and Policy Advisor Reygan Harmon reported to Council’s Public Safety Committee on the department’s Strategic Plan and the Mayor’s 100 Block Initiative. These presentations and a press conference earlier the same day covered a large swath of issues, some of which have been covered in the press here and here.
But there was an extraordinary occurrence at Public Safety that received very little media coverage: After Chief Jordan and Ms. Harmon briefly touched on Cease Fire, and after MOBN! and one other public speaker urged the City to adopt real Cease Fire this time, here’s what happened:
- Chief Jordan made it clear that he was in regular communication with David Kennedy, author of “Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America,” and was working closely with Stewart Wakeling, who brought a successful Cease Fire Program to Stockton. He also stated he was working closely with all of the agencies and community organizations that would have to be part of a successful Cease Fire Program and was determined to implement Cease Fire by June.
- Most of the four committee members sounded as though they had read “Don’t Shoot,” and were adamant that real Cease Fire would need to be implemented. Indeed, Council Member Nadel expressed surprise that for once, she was in complete agreement with MOBN! Council Member Reid proposed covering Professor Kennedy’s expenses to come to Oakland (although the committee ultimately decided that was unnecessary since he was already in consultation with Chief Jordan).
- The committee agreed to send the report to full council at tonight’s meeting with a recommendation that the OPD “work towards implementing a ‘cease fire’ program that closely mirrors the Kennedy model, including ‘the carrot and the stick.'”
Does all of that get us an effective Cease Fire program? Of course not. Much remains to be done. Oaklanders will need to watch the OPD, and the City as a whole, to make sure they implement the program, that they sustain it, and that they report back on its effectiveness. Real Cease Fire should effect a dramatic reduction in violence. Whether and to what extent the reduction occurs should be monitored and publicly reported on. Finally, the program must be sustained over time; Cease Fire is a long term change in organizing principals, not a short-term program. Oaklanders must make sure we do not join the cities who have implemented a successful Cease Fire program, then declared victory, gone home and had it all fall apart. We must be in this for the long haul.
David Kennedy directly addressed Oakland and Cease Fire in an interview with Tammerlin Drummond in Sunday’s Oakland Tribune.