Make Oakland Better Now! was getting ready to post Part Three in its series on the SPP/Wasserman report (the first two are here and here. Then, we learned from this past weekend’s Oakland Tribune that Mr. Wasserman is returning to Oakland to finish the job that was started. We are pleased to hear this. And in this post, we give our views on what the next steps should be for Mr. Wasserman, for SPP and for the City of Oakland.
What do Oakland and SPP do now? The next steps were described by SPP a year ago. At that time, staff and then-Chief Jordan submitted a report provided to them by SPP setting out the steps for creating a “community crime resistance and reduction strategy.” Steps 8 through 11 are the ones that remain:
Development of a crime reduction strategy showing sector responsibilities and accountabilities (Month 4)
Community review of the proposed strategy (Month 5)
Development of implementation plan and schedule of implementation milestones (Month 5-6)
Development of an evaluation plan to measure impact (Month 6)
So the next steps are for SPP and Oakland to complete step 8: “Development of a crime reduction strategy showing sector responsibilities and accountabilities” and Step 9, “Community review of the proposed strategy.” The community review should come first.
Meaningful community involvement will require much greater community organization and involvement than we have ever seen before. It will require the strongest organizational leadership Oakland has ever seen. And we would like to see a major City meeting that results in participants from all segments of the community committing to their roles in turning Oakland around. These segments should include Police leadership and OPOA, other City and County agencies, NCPC’s, community organizations, non-profits and leaders from the faith-based community. And the result of the civic commitments and SPP’s further work should be the FINAL crime reduction strategy.
What would such a crime reduction strategy look like? It would not be a memorandum with a mixed bag of observations and tactical suggestions. A strategic plan would look like this document that SPP prepared for the Baltimore Police Department. Oakland’s plan will be different, but the Baltimore format makes sense.
Baltimore’s strategic plan recognizes and describes specific challenges to public safety. It then describes five “pillars,” one to address each challenge. It sets “strategic objectives” for each pillar, “priority actions” for each strategic objective, and a timeframe and person or organization to be held accountable for each.
For example, Baltimore, like Oakland, faces challenges involving police community relations:
Engaging the community – There has been widespread concern among some parts of the Baltimore community about the lack of police engagement with the community, particularly at the patrol officer level.
So the Baltimore plan describes a “pillar” supported by a series of strategic objectives and strategies for better engaging the community:
Pillar 2: The Baltimore Police Department will develop and maintain relationships of trust with all members of the Baltimore community and work collaboratively with other organizations to solve community problems.
MOBN! strongly supported engaging SPP to prepare and assist in the implementation of a comprehensive public safety plan. We expected a plan with a format and level of detail much like those in Baltimore’s plan. This is what SPP needs to provide us.
There are many worthwhile ideas in SPP’s report. The next step, however, as agreed to by SPP in January, 2013, is to incorporate these ideas (and those in SPP’s previous reports) as a strategic whole into a comprehensive plan. After that, we hope the City and Mr. Wasserman will proceed with the community review and rollout, implementation plan, and an evaluation plan to measure the impact, just as agreed to a year ago.
We also note that for Baltimore’s plan, SPP had
. . .input from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, City Hall officials, the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police (Lodge 3), Vanguard Justice Society, community members and organizations, members of other city and state agencies, and personnel throughout the Baltimore Police Department.
While this is happening, three issues must be addressed:
1. We know that SPP conducted a number of town hall meetings, and heard from members of the public. But what other stakeholders did they hear from? Did they seek collaboration from the Oakland Police Officers Association? From the District Attorney and Public Defender?
2. And what of the key players in the Federal Court’s supervision of Oakland’s Police Department under the Negotiated Settlement Agreement? Difficulties in NSA Compliance, the cost of police-related litigation and the enormous cost of Court supervision are major factors affecting Oakland’s ability to provide effective policing. Did SPP attempt to collaborate with or seek input from the monitor, Robert Warshaw and the Compliance Director, Thomas Frazier? From the plaintiffs’ attorneys?
3. Finally, there is the question of Measure Y and violence prevention and intervention programs. In its most recent memorandum, SPP stresses the importance of renewing Measure Y. And it gives a long list of violence prevention programs and other programs services that, according to SPP, have the potential to help reduce crime.
But SPP provides neither analysis, nor anything else that will help Oakland to determine what is working, what is not working and what Oakland’s priorities should. We would hope that SPP would look at Oakland’s violence prevention/intervention programs, and provide some guidance on what has worked elsewhere. We agree with SPP that all of these efforts need to be coordinated. The question is, however, which of them need to remain during the coordination process?
These questions need to be answered and these omissions need to be corrected.