Positive Change for Ceasefire in Oakland

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Just about everyone who reads OakTalk, gets Make Oakland Better Now!’s e-mails, or follows us on Facebook knows that we are hosting an Operation Ceasefire Summit tomorrow, Saturday, January 9 at 2:00 p.m., at the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church (3434 Lakeshore Avenue).

But what just about nobody knows – and we didn’t learn until recently – is that there was a major change in how Operation Ceasefire is run. Last October, with no publicity at all, Mayor Libby Schaaf issued an “Executive Directive” bringing a much higher level of accountability to Ceasefire management.

We’ve made the entire directive available here, and we’ll be asking members of the Ceasefire team about it at the summit.  But here are some of the elements we really like:

• OPD is to establish a Ceasefire Management Team (“CMT’) consisting of Captains, Lieutenants, and the Ceasefire Coordinator (Reygan Harmon, who will be on our panel), reporting to the Chief.

The CMT is to meet weekly with the Chief, and sometimes other OPD management and representatives of the Mayor’s office to review plans and action steps. And OPD is to prioritize full staffing of units under the direction of the CMT, including Crime Reduction Teams (“CRT’s”.)

• Harmon, who has until now reported to the Chief, will be jointly detailed to the Chief and the Mayor’s office, and will become both Ceasefire project director and interim public safety policy director for violence reduction. This is important, because it keeps the Mayor’s office directly involved in Ceasefire management, making her directly responsible for the strategy’s success.

• The Human Services Department, which is responsible for much of the services element of Ceasefire, is directed to report to the Mayor by the end of 2015 on the following:

– Developing a citywide outreach and support program that reduces the risk of violence consistent with Measure Z guidelines.

– The continued development of existing shooting reviews and Case Conferences, as well as the adoption and ongoing development of Safety Plans.

– Advising on how Measure Z case managers, Leadership Advisory Council, and related elements from multiple agencies will be integrated into a cohesive program under the Ceasefire initiative.

• HSD is also directed to prioritize case management capacity by taking measures such as prioritizing cases based on risk of violence, accelerating the hiring of new case managers, and working with existing contractors to create additional slots.

• OPD is directed to have a dedicated Ceasefire crime analyst in place by April 1, 2016.

• A problem analysis focused on robbery is to be in place by July 1, 2016.

• A contract for rigorous academic evaluation of Ceasefire (to be funded under Measure Z) is to be in place by May 1, 2016.

• And, “Recognizing that only in those cities in which Ceasefire is institutionalized are reductions sustained over time – OPD and HSD shall work with the Ceasefire Coordinator and CPSC [California Partnership for Safe Communities, whose Stewart Wakeling will be on our panel] to develop comprehensive and detailed plans regarding Ceasefire institutionalization and sustainability by September 1, 2016.”

As we said, we like this Executive Directive, particularly its focus on deadlines and accountability for all the players in this important collaborative community safety effort. And since we know that Ceasefire has failed in other cities where it has been abandoned after being treated as the flavor of the month, we really like the focus on institutionalization and sustainability.

We’ll have lots to ask our panelists about on Saturday, and look forward to seeing as many Oaklanders as possible.

Date: Saturday, January 9, 2016
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA
RSVP on Facebook: www.facebook.com/events/542580982575583

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One response to “Positive Change for Ceasefire in Oakland

  1. A few things to keep in mind about the “changes” in Ceasefire. The above-mentioned are not actual, specific, operational changes (in a program about whose details we know very little) but mostly bureaucratic renamings and shufflings.

    For Oakland Ceasefire remains largely just a political promise to bring about change.

    In Oakland we’ve long dealt with these promises and have seen little change in crime over very many years.

    The institutionalization of a costly program is probably not the best way to proceed. We’ve already done that with the institutionalization of Measure Y social programs which have evolved into Measure Z. They’re now permanent. Whether they deliver something worth their cost is debatable.

    In terms of professional social program review, Oakland has long made a gesture in that direction with the local firm RDA which “analyzed” and reported on Measure Y program “performance.” No doubt RDA will be the consultant of choice when it comes to assessment of Ceasefire and Measure Z programs.

    RDA as an organizational entity has been captured by its contract(s) evaluating programs for Oakland. In an “informational” meeting before last year’s vote to renew Measure Y in the form of Measure Z, the director of RDA was working with (other) city employees in promoting the renewal.

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