Last Friday, Make Oakland Better Now! reported on Oaktalk that Council Member Sheng Thao was proposing that the City Council increase the budgeting for Police Academies to permit one additional police academy this fiscal year and another for the next one. This was on last Tuesday’s City Council Agenda for its special meeting. In advance, we wrote a letter to the Council members urging them to support it. We are very pleased to report that with a 6-2 vote, the Council agreed to add the academy for this fiscal year. This is reported on District 6 Council Member Loren Taylor’s web site, here. Sara Ravani’s report in the Chronicle on Wednesday is here.
As was observed, homicides in Oakland were up to 100, and sworn police officers were down to 694, the lowest number since 2014. The purpose of this action was to increase the number of officers available to work on reducing violence. This vote is a reflection of the fact that the majority of Oakland voters still wanted the number of officers to stay the same or even increase, with support that included 70% of the city’s African American voters, according to two polls: one poll commissioned and released last year by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce; also, the poll commissioned and released early this year by the Oakland Budget Advisory Commission. Council’s vote was a good start, and we were pleased to see it occur. We certainly hope that in the foreseeable future, Council will vote to add another Academy in the second fiscal year of this budget period.
On multiple occasions, Make Oakland Better Now! has urged elected council members to consider a recommendation made to Oakland by an expert many years ago to retain an entity with expertise on studying the number of officers needed. We urged it to Council on Tuesday morning and hope they will consider it in the future.
At the same meeting, Council unanimously passed Council Member Reid’s resolution that Gun Violence constitutes a Public Health Emergency. We look forward to Alameda County’s response to this resolution.