As most Oaklanders know, Tuesday morning at 10:30 and Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 will be key City Council meetings concerning public safety. In the first, Council will consider proposals to make substantial revisions to the current budget to permit increased police staffing. The late afternoon meeting is designed to comply with Measure Z’s annual meeting requirement. Between the meetings, there will be proposals by Mayor Schaaf, Council Members Taylor and Shao, and probably others, concerning staffing, additional police academies and other items. Make Oakland Better Now! will be making remote appearances (as will all attendees) with a variety of proposals, which are included in our letter this morning to City Council members:
Dear City Council Members,
During a time when violent crime is agonizingly increasing in Oakland, your meetings on Tuesday, December 7, are critically important. As long-time advocates for increasing Oakland Public Safety, Make Oakland Better Now! wishes to urge the following considerations and adoptions:
- Immediately assign the maximum of sworn officers to patrol. We realize having investigative officers is crucial, and that Operation Ceasefire (discussed further below) needs more officers as discussed (see Par. 12 below). However, we urge the City Council to urge the Police Department to maximize the number of officers in every district and to maximize the number of officers on the streets and active in the community. Also to ensure that police officers are parts of neighborhoods and communities.
- Immediately hire the people to staff MACRO, a critically important part of public safety.
- Immediately and substantially increase the number of academies and sworn officers to repair the recent large drop in numbers of officers. We strongly support the request by Mayor Schaaf and City Administrator Reiskin that the budget be amended to substantially increase the number of police academies. In addition, Oakland should take the steps necessary for the Oakland Police Department to utilize lateral transfers for more officers.
- Fund an independent expert study on the number of OPD officers required to meet public safety needs. In 2013 and 2014, Oakland had a professional report by expert Robert Wasserman of Strategic Policy Partners, in which he suggested a professional examination of how many officers should staff the Department. In a private discussion with MOBN! board members, Wasserman proposed having the study done by ICMA. We have since learned that there are other entities that can do the same thing. We strongly believe that in addition to increasing the staff, Council and the Administration should retain the services of a specializing entity to study and publicly report on how many officers are needed.
- Measure Z requires that annual meetings be held for the community, City commissions and committees, the public and council, to review and evaluate crime-reduction measures, what succeeds, what fails, and what else should be done. We understand that this is the basis for Tuesday’s late afternoon meeting. However, we believe there are steps that can make this more important and effective. These are outlined in attached Appendix A.
- Oakland City Government should be actively focusing on what powers should be provided to the Department of Violence Prevention to reduce violent crime.
- Oakland should Establish and Enhance Partnership with other Law Enforcement Agencies having Jurisdiction in Oakland. There are numerous law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction in the City of Oakland, such as: California Highway Patrol, Alameda County Sheriff Department, BART Police, Oakland Housing Authority Police, FBI, and the East Bay Regional Park District Police Department. The City Council should provide direction for enhanced partnership or formal service agreements that can immediately improve collaboration for an increase in patrolling officers and crime intel across representing jurisdictions.
- Oakland Government should collaborate carefully with other Oakland organizations involved and/or concerned with crime prevention issues, including SPUR, and Make Oakland Better Now!.
- We strongly support Council Member Taylor’s recent suggestions, “Stand Together Against Losing Lives Oakland,” https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lW8m-LEh4Ay06pg79-ztY7hfOZLOVRet/view. We urge Council to seriously consider applying these. And we also support Council Member Taylor’s more recent proposal that police staffing be increased to 800, a number that should be in place until the above-discussed staffing evaluation has been concluded and reported to Oakland.
- We encourage members of Council to familiarize themselves with, and listen to, The Ezra Klein Podcast with Patrick Sharkey, specifically and importantly addressing National violence increase.
- Operation Ceasefire, a major operation for reducing violent crime, needs to be substantially increased. More police officers are needed for this. Furthermore, we must get community engagement started, and have more community members available for street engagement. We must give resources to those in the community for events where those who are identified by Cease Fire will actually show up. And we must empower persons affected by violence to touch and move those involved with violence. All of this will also involve much work from OPD and from DVP.
- We urge additional funding for Neighborhood Council in this moment to quickly scale up community-led safety initiatives in collaboration with existing community organizations.
- We recognize that the recommended actions will be very costly. Therefore, Oakland must make a concerted effort to immediately seek and obtain funding at the Federal, State, County and private level for all of the programs and actions described in this letter.
Make Oakland Better Now!
By the Make Oakland Better Now! Board
APPENDIX TO §MOBN!’S LETTER TO COUNCIL
SUBJECT: MEASURE Z-REQUIRED ANNUAL PUBLIC SAFETY MEETINGS Specifically, we suggest this: In each Police Area, (Police Area 1, Downtown West Oakland; Police Area 2, North Oakland, Uptown; Police Area 3, Fruitvale, Central Oakland; Police Area 4, East Oakland, Mills, Leona, and Police Area 5, East Oakland, Knowland Park), the Commission and other public safety-related boards and commissions shall conduct annual joint special public informational meetings devoted to the subject of public safety. At each such meeting, the public, City Council members and other attending City personnel will hear reports from representatives of all departments, the Chief of the Department of Violence Prevention and the Chief of Police concerning progress of all of the City’s efforts to reduce violent crime, which efforts have succeeded, which have not, and which efforts are anticipated to be implemented successfully in the near future. City Council members in attendance shall be in the audience, obtaining information from presentations, not making decisions, so not covered by the Brown Act.. Oakland shall make locations for such meetings highly available for members of the public and shall determine and effectuate measures to encourage public attendance. If there is a pandemic at the time, the meetings shall be conducted on-line, with major publicity concerning matters for the public to attend. Whether the meetings are held on-line or in person, they shall also be televised and made available on YouTube.