Miss the Ceasefire Summit? Watch It Here!


Thank you to everyone who joined us at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church for our first Operation Ceasefire SummitIt was a valuable discussion on how City Hall, the police, and community are working together to make Oakland safer.

A special thanks to all our panelists:
• Rev. Damita Davis-Howard
• Ceasefire Consultant Stewart Wakeling
• OPD Police Chief Sean Whent
• Captain Ersie Joyner
• Vaughn Crandall, Senior Partner at National Network for Safe Communities
• California Partnership for Safe Communities’ Daniela Gilbert
• Ceasefire Manager Reygan Harmon
• Department of Human Services Director Sara Bedford
• Department of Human Services Manager Peter Kim

Thank you for educating Oaklanders and for what you do to help save lives.

We’ll be posting more photos, sharing slides from the California Partnership for Safe Communities presentation, and answering some questions we weren’t able to get to during the Q&A.

Watch the full video from the Ceasefire Summit below.

Make Oakland Better Now!

OakTalk Here is the blog of Make Oakland Better Now!, an Oakland community grassroots group of a grass-roots group of voters, volunteers, and policy advocates committed to improving the City of Oakland by focusing on public safety, public works, and responsible budgets. Founded in 2003, we’ve researched, lobbied, and successfully campaigned for a number of new, impactful policies, including the city’s Rainy Day Fund, Measure Z and Operation Ceasefire.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Hobart Johnson

    Thanks for making the Ceasefire meeting video available for those of us unable to attend.

    The meeting seems to me to have been mostly a public relations event to promote Ceasefire rather than an objective examination of its status and prospects. PR rather than objectivity might be an appropriate goal at this point in time but carries a major risk long-term. The risk is that Ceasefire, like other Oakland civic problem-solving efforts, will remain under-resourced, essentially politicized and ineffective, and will not be able to evolve to become the efficient and cost-effective effort it needs to be.

    On the other hand there were several poignant and insightful remarks offered by Ceasefire experts Stewart Wakeling, Vaughn Crandall and Daniela Gilbert as well as by OPD bosses Sean Whent and Ersie Joyner.

    A first point must be made about the reduction-in-homicide numbers offered during the introduction to the meeting. The claim that Ceasefire already has reduced the homicide rate in Oakland by 34% is not at all meaningful. The data presented were not dealt with honestly but rather were selective data which began with an above-average (mean value) homicide rate and ended with below-average rates.

    Small short term changes in data are not revealing but longer-term changes can be. Conclusions drawn from short-term data are often politically useful but are not useful for program performance evaluation and program improvement.

    Over the past 15 years Oakland’s homicide rate has been, on average (statistical mean), 102 per year. The standard deviation (expected normal variation due to a wide variety of known and unknown factors) of the annual numbers over this period is 18. A homicide rate in the 80s is thus approximately within the standard deviation (a mean of 102 minus 18 gives 84 homicides per annum).

    80-something homicides per year is NOT a statistically valid reduction which can be attributed to any particular factor such as Ceasefire. Usually in scientific work a change of TWO standard deviations is considered to indicate a minimally valid change. When Oakland has 2×18 or 36 fewer (than the mean) homicides per year, then we have evidence of real progress. 102 minus 36 equals 66 homicides. When Oakland has about 66 homicides per year over a few years we can be confident that we are moving forward but not until then.

    For me the best of the insights and important facts offered at the meeting were:

    1. Oakland’s Ceasefire efforts remain in their infancy and credible
    positive outcomes still need to be established. Again the numbers presented early at the meeting were PR rather than meaningful data.

    2. Oakland will need to commit significant amounts of additional resources to Ceasefire if real positive outcomes are to be obtained as was pointed out by Stewart Wakeling. This has been the case in Richmond where positive outcomes were established by somewhat more reliable data.

    3. Oakland Police Department crime analysis resources are critical and also remain in their infancy. Important data points have been and remain unreliable to date.

    Examples: A. During the Measure Y years social programs focused on 18 year-olds and younger people as the target group for outreach to those “at risk” (of shooting someone). This improperly-identified group received major resources over a decade with, at best, dubious results.

    Today OPD/Ceasefire is looking at 29 year-olds as the target group. We still don’t know how the more recent analysis was done and how valid it might be. We may know in a few years what we should have known yesterday. Meanwhile our politicians have touted our “progress.” I should add that years ago crime expert Anthony Braga did point out in a report to the city of Oakland that the “at risk” group was older than 18 years but the Measure Y folks as well as elected officials whom I personally informed chose to ignore this observation.

    B. The Oakland city website mentions an “at risk” group of about 1000 persons. At the meeting this group became 300 persons. Which is it and why? I am not convinced that we know yet what we vitally need to know about the size, not to mention the composition, of our “at risk” population.

    C. If in 2015 Ceasefire targeted about 50 “at risk” shooters for major interventions, what is the expectation for overall effectiveness in reducing homicides long-term within an overall population of shooters which is possibly 300 to 1000 in number?

    Ceasefire program design needs reliable data as well as well-defined guideposts for establishing meaningful progress. In order to reduce homicides in a meaningful way long-term, so that we effectively change the homicidal culture, how much of the target group of shooters do we need to deal with annually? Dealing with 50 of 300 shooters suggests that the homicidal culture is likely to be maintained long-term rather than reduced. Again, the bottom line is the requirement for Oakland to provide adequate resources, both in quantity and quality.

    4. There were a variety of mentions by panelists and the moderator of types of measurements of the effectiveness of Ceasefire and related programs. Most of these mentions were in terms of the familiar, typical (and largely meaningless) Oakland liturgy of services delivered. Only panelists Wakeling, Crandall and Gilbert observed that what must be measured are outcomes, specifically valid numbers of reductions in homicides.

    Last, I want to emphasize that Ceasefire does have a chance for success in Oakland, but all of us need to understand that there is great risk if we count our chickens before they hatch.

    The bottom line: Oakland needs to commit enough resources to Ceasefire to reduce the homicides to about 65 annually. Unfortunately Oakland pols have a history of promising much but not following through and allocating sufficient resources to actually solve problems.

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