Category Archives: Public Safety

Police Commission Measure: Exactly What Did the Council Just Do?

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Last month, the City Council passed a resolution putting a police commission measure on this November’s ballot. (Read recent coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Express, and East Bay Times.)

The new commission will differ in a number of important ways from the existing Citizens’ Police Review Board. It will possess subpoena power. The charter provides for mandatory staffing of one investigator for every 100 officers. By a 5-2 vote, it can fire the Police Chief for cause (with “cause” to be defined by enabling legislation). It nominates future chiefs, and the Mayor chooses from the nominated candidates. And it has policy-setting powers to “accept or reject” OPD policies related to use of force, profiling, and First Amendment assemblies. It’s already been called one of the strongest police commissions in the nation.

Like most individuals and organizations involved in this debate, we believe this measure is a terrific step forward, and we will support it. But there’s still much work to be done.

Continue reading

Oakland’s Police Commission: Where We Stand

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Oakland City Council will be considering a ballot measure establishing a police commission, civilian inspector general, and Community Police Review Agency at its meeting on Tuesday, July 19 at 5pm.

We posted about this measure on our blog when it was going to the Public Safety Committee last month. (There’s also been plenty of local news coverage from San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Times, and East Bay Express.)

We’ve reviewed the Police Commission Charter Amendment in full, the most recent revision, and a red-lined revision from the Alameda County Labor Council. Exactly what will go to Council for a vote remains unclear, but here is what we know so far: Continue reading

Public Safety Committee Considers New Police Commission


Last week was very hard for Oakland: Police Chief Sean Whent resigned and was immediately replaced by an Interim Chief Benson Fairow, formerly Deputy Chief of BART Police, and a deeply disturbing scandal — involving a possible cover-up — detailed abuse and misconduct by OPD officers.

And it is in this environment that the Public Safety Committee will meet on Tuesday, June 14 at 4:00 p.m. to debate a new charter amendment establishing a strong police commission and other mechanisms of police oversight. The meeting is at Oakland City Hall, Sgt. Mark Dunakin Hearing Room, First Floor.

The details of the proposal under consideration, introduced by Council Members Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo, are available here and here.

While an alternate measure (read here and here) by Council Members Annie Campbell-Washington, Abel Guillén and Larry Reid is also on the agenda, both Campbell-Washington and Guillén announced on Facebook Sunday afternoon that they would withdraw the proposal.

Make Oakland Better Now! has spent a great deal of time researching this issue. Our analysis is in a rather lengthy and detailed letter to the Public Safety Committee, and we will be presenting our recommendations at Tuesday’s meeting. But here are some of the key points: Continue reading

The Mayor’s Safe Oakland Series Explores “Fair and Just Policing”

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Mayor Libby Schaff’s Safe Oakland series has explored tough topics such as community policing and trust-building, and the presentations often address how the city and police department are collaborating with policymakers, academics, and community activists to improve public safety.

The most recent event in the series, “Fair and Just Policing” with Yale Law professor Tracey Meares, continued this important dialogue. Meares, who served on President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, shared insights from recent studies on criminal justice and looked at the intersection between social psychology and law. Continue reading

Answering Your Questions About Ceasefire (Part Two)

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We’re publishing answers to the questions our audience submitted at January’s Ceasefire Summit.  (Read part one, with responses from OPD’s Sean Whent and members of Oakland Ceasefire, here.) Today, we provide answers from Sara Bedford and Peter Kim from Oakland’s Department of Human Services. We also have one question to, and answer from, Reverend Damita Davis-Howard.

How is your work trauma-informed? What mental health resources, if any, are given to clients?—Maria Dominguez, PUEBLO

Under Measure Z and beginning in the fall of 2016, Oakland Unite will fund technical assistance and training for our network of funded service providers with the goal of increasing capacities and competencies in a number of areas, one of which include Trauma Informed Care practices.

Outside of this, most of our providers already take it upon themselves to undergo training in trauma-informed approaches from experts and/or clinicians. Depending on the strategy or intervention, agencies will provide trauma-informed trainings to their staff to help augment inform their work (ie: Intensive Case Management) or it will actually be a primary, required component of their services (ie: mental health counseling, restorative justice services, crisis response, healing circles, etc).

But even more broadly, all of our funded agencies are embracing this understanding that the individuals and communities we work with suffer from intense trauma (on an individual and a generational level) and that to uncover the roots of the challenges they face, especially around violence, workers must approach interventions and support services through a trauma-informed lens.

Mental health counseling services are provided to Oakland Unite program participants in the following strategies: Intensive Case Management for Adults (i.e. Ceasefire participants), Intensive Case Management for Youth (i.e. juveniles on probation), Violent Incident and Crisis Response (i.e. shooting victims at Highland Hospital, families/friends of homicide victims, domestic violence victims), and Innovation Fund (i.e. provide schools in high violence areas with support around culture and climate change meant to reduce violence among youth, all within a mental health framework of support service).

To Sara Bedford: What does “clients being served” mean?—Maxwell Park NCPC

By this we are referring to the actual participants who receive direct services as participants in OU-funded programs. Across all Oakland Unite funded programs, we project that we will serve over 3,000 individuals who are at highest-risk of being impacted by violence under Measure Z this coming year. This number includes the 200 young men identified by Ceasefire who actively commit to and engage in Intensive Case Management services.

How many case managers are there presently devoted to Ceasefire? How many work for Oakland and how many for non-profits? Will there be more, and if so when?Anonymous

We will have a total of ten (10) intensive case managers, or “Life Coaches” who work with Ceasefire participants: four (4) work for the City of Oakland as HSD/Oakland Unite staff; six (6) are staff at community-based non-profit organizations. Currently, eight (8) of the ten (10) positions are filled, and we expect full hiring by end of April. With eight (8) Life Coaches hired, we have had more than enough capacity to accommodate all the referrals received thus far.

We do not have plans on securing more than ten (10) total Life Coaches since we project having more than adequate capacity to absorb all referrals of Ceasefire participants. We base this calculation on the average rates of referrals made and of service uptake over the last three years.

Does Oakland have a liaison dedicated to finding jobs and mentoring CF clients in their jobs? How is this effort working out?Anonymous

OU is currently working on developing an Request for Qualifications for an Employment/Community Liaison position. This position is geared to develop relationships with employers that prioritize entry-level yet career-track opportunities in the health, construction, technology, and service sectors. This high-level position will focus much more on strengthening the employers’ ability to effectively and successfully employ this very-difficult-to-employ population, as well as strengthen our job training service providers’ ability to effectively and successfully prepare participants with specialized job readiness and skills training.

What are stipends? Are the members of the 300 being paid? How much?Anonymous
A more accurate term is “incentives” since these payments (in the form of an agency check) are used to incentivize Ceasefire participants to engage in services and work towards “Life Map” milestones that are developed by the participant and his intensive case manager, or “Life Coach.” Milestones vary in scale or scope, according to where a participant is at in their personal development, and incentive payments also vary accordingly. For example, milestones can include the initial, smaller goals of consistently meeting w/ a Life Coach, getting a Drivers License or Ca ID, attending Manhood Development groups, completing a resume, or staying in consistent compliance with their Probation terms. These goals typically earn $25 to $50 each per month. Over time, milestones can include enrollment in a GED or Job Training program, attending a job interview, opening a bank account, getting a positive probation report at a court hearing, attending mental health or substance abuse counseling, etc. These can earn $50 to $75 each per month. Larger goals include graduation from a GED or Job Training program, securing employment, gaining custody of a child, securing and maintaining independent housing, dismissal from probation or parole, etc. These can earn $100 to $150 each per month. All participants who engage and commit to working with a Life Coach has access to incentive payments.

And the one question to, and answer from, Rev. Davis-Howard:

 For Rev. Damita: How do our faith-based Ceasefire strategies differ from the Boston Miracle? Where are we better? Where can we borrow more from it?Anonymous
It would be very good to have more clergy in the streets and directly involved, as they were in the Boston Miracle.

Analysis: Oakland Police Department’s New Strategic Plan

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Oaklanders who attended the Make Oakland Better Now! Ceasefire Summit heard some mention of the Oakland Police Department’s new “Strategic Plan.”  This plan, posted on OPD’s website with no fanfare on December 31, replaces the previous strategic plan, issued by former Police Chief Anthony Batts in 2010—and not heard of again after Chief Batts left the department in 2011.

We’ve spent some time studying the plan, and we see a lot of progress and positive goals.  Continue reading

Important Public Safety Committee meeting on gun control

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On Tuesday, December 15, the Oakland’s Public Safety Committee will consider new gun control measures that will ban the possession of large capacity magazines and require the safe storage of firearms.

These ordinances were proposed by councilmembers Dan Kalb, Annie Campbell Washington and Rebecca Kaplan earlier this month. (Read a summary of the ordinances at KTVU and the East Bay Express.)

The NRA is rallying supporters to speak out against these new ordinances, and we are asking that you come out to this meeting, so the NRA is not the only voice in the room.

About gun control in Oakland:

It is currently against the law to purchase large capacity magazines, which allow a gun to be fired many times without reloading. The proposed ordinance would also ban the possession of these instruments of mass killings. Large Capacity Magazines are not used for hunting; their only use is to kill large numbers of people at once.

At a recent press conference, OPD Chief Sean Whent said that the ability to confiscate these magazines, if they are found in someone’s possession, is an important tool for police.

In addition, Allison Anderman of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, stated that “by prohibiting the possession of these types of magazines, people who mean to do harm will have a significantly harder time acquiring them. In fact, a Washington Post study showed that when the federal law prohibiting possession of large capacity magazines was in effect, use of firearms with those magazines dropped dramatically.”

The safe storage of firearms is extremely important. Due to the unsafe storage of guns, children find the guns and then shoot themselves or others. In fact, in the U.S. more children than cops are killed by guns. (For more, read this Business Insider article.)

These ordinances call for safe gun storage in homes and in vehicles. Chief Whent, when asked how this would be enforced, stated that these measures allow police to intervene when they see a gun in plain sight, stored unsafely, in a car or in a home. This is an important tool in helping to keep Oakland safe.

About Oakland’s Public Safety Committee:

The Public Safety Committee meets in the Sgt. Mark Dunakin hearing room, which is on the first floor of the Oakland City Hall. The meeting starts at 6PM, but given that these three ordinances are at the end of the agenda, you will not need to be there until later.

Parking is free in the structure to the side of City Hall, at the corner of 14th St. and Clay St; the entrance is from Clay St. When you enter the parking structure, get the “coin” and get it validated at the front of the meeting room.

You can fill out a speaker card online or get a card at the meeting and submit it before the agenda item is called. These ordinances are agenda items 10, 11 and 12.