Author Archives: Make Oakland Better Now!

Do You Feel Safe In Oakland? Join a discussion on February 27

IMG_5115

 

Join us for an in depth discussion about public safety and strategies for violence prevention in Oakland as they relate to public health, implicit bias and community/police relations.

  • Director of Violence Prevention Guillermo Cespedes
  • Stanford Professor Jennifer Eberhardt
  • Community Activist Reverend Damita Davis Howard

Doors 6:00pm. Program at 6:30pm. Free & open to public.

Tickets at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-safer-oakland-tickets-94780423799

 

Chief Guillermo Cespedes Shares Strategy for Department of Violence Prevention

Guillermo Cespedes

Make Oakland Better Now consulted with Chief Guillermo Cespedes concerning his plans for the Department of Violence Prevention (DVP) and how to stem violent crime in Oakland. Cespedes described a Violence Prevention and Intervention Strategy that combines a public health and community-driven approach. This plan, which we fully support, is an important step towards reducing Oakland’s violent crime. Read our summary below:

Community-Driven Results
If Oakland is going to prevent violent crime, it will need many voices, leaders, and resources. The following elements guide the concept of a community-driven model:

  • Communities identify the specific problems and participate in the solutions applied to that problem.
  • Communities are provided capacity building tools to identify problems and implement solutions.
  • All members of the community are considered legitimate stakeholders, including those who have been victims and/or perpetrators of violence.
  • All community-centered strategies focus on behavior, not identity.

Violence as a Public Health Issue
In general terms, Chief Cespedes describes the the public health approach to violent crime as one that views violence as a contagious disease that can be stopped by providing effective “medicine” (concentrated programming) at individual, family, peer, school and community levels. This approach is most effective when the medicine is applied in specific places, with specific populations, during the times that the disease is most acute.

The public health approach is comprised of the following elements:

  • Paying attention to underlying risk factors that create and reinforce violence in specific communities;
  • Interventions at the individual, family, peer group, school and community level;
  • An emphasis on specific populations at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of risk. (More on this subject below)
  • Evidence-informed interventions that examine specific people, places, months of the year, days of the week, and times of the day.

Focus Populations
Chief Cespedes described the specific geographic areas that have a documented level of violence. These spots can be as small as four square miles. Populations within these areas will receive four types of services simultaneously:

  1. Primary prevention services. These are for community members between the ages of 8 and 17 years of age who live in high-risk areas but are not involved in delinquent behaviors. This approach, which includes youth development services, can be compared to providing the necessary preventive medicine protects against the disease of violence before it starts.
  2. Secondary prevention services. This involves individual and family-based services for community members between the ages of 8 and 17 years of age who are involved in relatively low-level delinquent activities. (Family, in this context, is inclusive of whatever structure is present, rather than the idealized two-parent family.) The goal is to prevent this population from escalating involvement in violence, thus becoming more “contaminated.”
  3. Tertiary level services. This intervention involves individual and family services for justice involved community members between the ages of 8 and 30 years of age.
  4. Relational policing. In addition, the DVP will provide consultation on “relational policing” activities, defined as those actions aimed at establishing a non-transactional relationship between police and community in which the handcuffs are the last, as opposed to the first, resort. (The DVP does not implement relational policing activities, only consultation.)

Changing Community Norms
In addition to the focused interventions directed at different populations, the DVP’s public health and community-driven approach seeks to change community norms through campaigns and macro-level school and community-based interventions.

______

Chief Cespedes has guided successful implementation of this Public Health / Community-Driven Approach in Los Angeles* and has provided consultation on the public health model to cities through Central America, the Caribbean, and in North Africa. Addressing the violence in this targeted way, Cespedes notes, is the most effective way of inoculating the entire city against a city-wide violence epidemic.

Oakland has much to do. We are glad to see that homicide and violent crime have gone down over the past five years. But still, in 2019, homicide was up 12% over the year before, and violent crime was up 5% over the year before. There is much to be done. But Chief Cespedes’ plan is a big part of it, and we support him.

*The Los Angeles implementation reduced 9 categories of part one crime including homicides by almost 50%. LA has sustained these reductions as it has completed 10 consecutive years with less than 300 homicides for a city with 4 million residents.

 

 

The Fair Chance Housing Ordinance Goes Before Council Tonight

At tonight’s meeting, starting at 5:00 p.m., City Council will be considering the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance, supported last week unanimously at a Special Community and Economic Development Committee meeting, and on the Consent Calendar for tonight’s agenda. Make Oakland Better Now! long ago agreed to support this measure, modeled after the Fair Chance Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, a California law that generally prohibits employers with five or more employees from asking about a conviction history before making an offer.

This type of law, also known as a “Ban the Box” law, would be applied to housing, and remove some barriers for formerly incarcerated individuals to access housing.

Here, we share an in-depth interview published on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative website from May 2019 with one of the leaders, Make Oakland Better Now! Committee of 50 member John Jones III.

Make Oakland Better Now! Endorses Measure Q

80389848_101737521337749_5387376856049647616_o

On March 3, vote YES on Measure Q.
Join the
campaign at its kickoff event this Saturday.

Measure Q is a March 3 ballot tax measure, designed to generate revenue to be used for city parks improvement, homelessness services and clean water. The Make Oakland Better Now! board has voted to endorse it, and urges Oaklanders to support it. We join a wide coalition in support of this measure. Among other organizations, it is supported by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club, SF Bay Chapter, League of Women Voters of Oakland, Outdoor Afro and Oakland Tenants Union. Continue reading

Oakland City Council’s Parcel Tax to Improve Funding for City Parks, Litter Reduction, and Homelessness Support

(image source: Oakland Homeless Response)

On November 14, Oakland’s City Council passed a resolution to submit a parcel tax to voters on the March 3, 2020 primary ballot.  The amount of the tax will vary depending on forms and usage of real property, but residential property would be taxed at rates of $148 per single-family residential parcel and $101.08 per residential unit for multiple residential parcels with a 50% reduction for affordable housing projects, and for non-residential units, a rate based on frontage, square footage and building area. (Read the Chronicle’s recent article on the parcel tax here, and East Bay Express’ coverage here.) Continue reading

Meet Guillermo Cespedes, Oakland’s New Chief of Violence Prevention


For several years now, Make Oakland Better Now! has urged elected officials to adopt and implement a comprehensive public safety plan, involving coordinated activities from every city department – from police to parks and recreation and more – playing a role in violent crime prevention.

In 2013 the City’s police consultant, Robert Wasserman, argued for this in a report titled, “Zeroing Out Crime.” Mr. Wasserman wrote, “Every agency must see itself as part of the crime solution and coordinate initiatives.” He urged regular meetings of heads of every department with any responsibility for crime reduction.

While some of Oakland’s elected officials have agreed, they have not been able to coordinate adoption or implementation of such a policy.

A new City leader is taking up the work of making this finally happen, and we are hopeful. In October, three of our board members were pleased to meet with Guillermo Cespedes, the first Chief of Oakland’s new Violence Prevention Department, who assumed that position on September 23. He said at the start of his tenure, “I am honored and very excited to return to Oakland to join professional colleagues, community advocates and elected officials in building a balanced comprehensive violence prevention strategy.” Continue reading

Ten Questions for Darlene Flynn, Oakland’s Director of Race & Equity

DarleneFlynn
In 2016, Oakland formed its Department of Race & Equity, and recruited Darlene Flynn as its Director. Last month, Carrie Crespo-Dixon, one of Make Oakland Better Now!’s board members, sat down with Ms. Flynn to talk about taking on the unprecedented role of leading this department. Continue reading