Make Oakland Better Now! has started a 10 part series on strategies for making Oakland better, and we will be continuing with that soon. But others have good ideas as well, and we want to share some. The ideas in this guest post are those of Steve Spiker. A self-described urbanist, technologist, photographer and husband and father, almost new home owner, he is the Research Director for Urban Strategies. His blog, where this post first appeared, is here.
Oakland is once again talking about data and facts concerning crime, causes and policing practices, except we’re not really. We’re talking about an incredibly thin slice of a big reality, a thin slice that’s not particularly helpful, revealing nor empowering. And this is how we always do it.
Chip Johnson is raising the flag on our lack of a broad discussion about the complexity of policing practices and the involvement of African-Americans in the majority of serious crimes in our city, and on that I say he’s dead right, these are hard conversations and we’ve not really had them openly. The problem is, the data we’re given as the public (and our decision makers have about the same) is not sufficient to plan with, make decisions from nor understand much at all. Once again we’re given a limited set of summary tables that present just tiny nuances of reality and that do not allow for any actual analyses by the public nor by policy makers. And if you believe that internal staff get richer analysis and research to work with you’re largely wrong.