Tag Archives: gun violence

Answering Your Questions About Ceasefire: Part 3

We’ve been publishing answers to the questions our audience submitted at January’s Ceasefire Summit.  (Read parts one and two here and here.) In our third and final installment, we have a lengthy response from California Partnership for Safe Communities to a question about how Oakland identifies those at highest risk for violence. Thanks to Stewart Wakeling, Vaughan Crandall and Daniella Gilbert for the thorough response, and thanks again to all of our panelists for participating and for the follow-up answers.

For CPSC: How did you estimate 300 very-highest risk? Is this 300 un-duplicated per year?Anonymous

This working estimate is drawn from the Oakland Problem and Opportunity Analysis (PA), authored jointly by the California Partnership for Safe Communities and the Oakland Police Department.

The PA began with a structured and in-depth review of every homicide that occurred during 2012 and the first six months of 2013 (a total of 171 incidents), the victims and suspects involved in those incidents, and the networks to which those individuals were connected.  Each step in the analysis combines the expertise of front-line officers (qualitative information) with trend data and other quantitative information to produce an accurate and detailed account of local violence. The methodology behind this approach to data collection and analysis has been carefully developed by leading criminologists and practitioners over the past 20 years and is considered national best practice.

Specifically, this figure is drawn from what is sometimes referred to as a group or network audit. We found the following:

  1. There are approximately 50 violent groups in Oakland, with an estimated active membership of 1000 – 1200 people. This is approximately 0.3% of the entire city’s population.
  2. Of active groups in Oakland, only a small subset of the groups are at highest risk of violence – 18 groups – and, citywide,  approximately 300  individuals from these groups were associated with a majority of group-involved violence. We think these are unduplicated as per the question above.
  3. We refer to this as a working estimate to emphasize the figure is somewhat elastic. CPSC will complete an updated problem analysis in 2016.

OPD conducts weekly shooting reviews to maintain a real time assessment of who is at very highest risk of violence. Weekly shooting reviews over the course of Ceasefire implementation to date suggest that the estimate of 300 individuals at very highest risk of gun violence per year is an accurate one.

Shooting reviews are regular and frequent meetings, during which experienced and knowledgeable practitioners come together as a working group to analyze recent shootings. While there are variations, a shooting review combines analysis, strategy development and implementation. In this way, it serves as a useful management meeting.

  • Analysis: understanding and monitoring risk. Practitioners begin their discussion of each incident with basic information available on each shooting, including the date, time, location and individuals involved. Then, a mid-level manager, often assisted by a researcher, facilitates the meeting, systematically working through a series of analytic questions regarding those involved in the shootings, shooting circumstances and motives, and information on the individuals’ involvement in relevant street networks and relationships with a particular focus on potential retaliation.
  • Strategy Development: shaping and managing a near-term response. The facilitator follows this analysis with a purposeful but exploratory discussion of how to respond. One of the most important products of shooting reviews is the identification of individuals at highest risk of violence and the development of a plan for addressing that risk, along with a work plan describing who will do what and when. Subsequent meetings begin with a review of the prior meeting’s work plan.

In summary, a problem analysis is conducted periodically (every few years) to tailor the overall approach to local needs, priorities and resources, laying a foundation for strategy development and evaluation. In contrast, shooting reviews – whether convened by criminal justice agencies or outreach and support staff – are used to refine strategies in real time and manage their implementation.

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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.

Answering Your Questions About Ceasefire (Part One)

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More than 100 Oaklanders attended Make Oakland Better Now!’s Ceasefire Summit back in January. We had a great group of insider panelists, including Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent, Ceasefire Director of Strategy Reygan Harmon, Reverend Damita Davis-Howard, Oakland Human Services Director Sara Bedford, and more.

There was just one downside: We had tons of questions from the audience, and not nearly enough time to answer them all. So after the event, we shared the rest of the questions with our panelists. This week, over the course of three blog posts, we’ll publish all the responses. (Thanks for waiting!)

Today, we’ll focus on the questions directed to the Ceasefire team. Reygan Harmon, OPD Chief Sean Whent and Captain Ersie Joyner jointly agreed on each answer.

 How is your work gender responsive? There seems to be an under-emphasis on girls and women.—Maria Dominguez, PUEBLO
Ceasefire focuses on the individuals shown by data to be most likely to be drivers of gun violence. While there are some women who are involved in violence in some ways, this is fairly rare, and the driving forces are almost always male.

When is Ceasefire planning on targeting North and West Oakland gangs?BBBON (Block by Block Organizing Network)
Ceasefire is not a geographic strategy. It prioritizes the most active violent groups and gangs wherever they are located. For several years, this has been predominantly East Oakland. In the past six months, Ceasefire began focusing as well on the Ghost Town gang in West Oakland. If a North Oakland group or gang became sufficiently active, Ceasefire would focus on that group or gang.

Are county, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors attending call-ins? How many call-ins in 2015?Oakland Rotary Club
Ceasefire is a partnership, whose strength derives from involving OPD, the community, service providers and other state and local public safety partners, including the State and Federal prosecutors, probation and parole. Representatives from all of these agencies participate in the call-ins. In 2015 there were 4 call-ins. The goal for 2015 is 5 call-ins.

How can Oakland have a say in whether a parolee is released into the city?R.G.
We do not. By law, parolees are released into the County where convicted. Many have family in Oakland who can take them in here. While there is a difficult bureaucratic process for changing the location of release, it is not available to us as a practical matter.

Guns are used in homicides. Why doesn’t Ceasefire help OPD trace and analyze where every gun comes from and how to reduce the flow?G.D.
This question goes beyond Ceasefire. With a recent increased budget allocation, OPD has an enhanced program for gun tracing, involving more analysts, more staff in the crime lab and officers collecting casings from every gunfire incident reported by Shotspotter. In addition, Forensic Logic, OPD’s data analysis partner, is developing an enhanced program that will streamline our capacity to enter all firearm-related data into the tracking system.

How did you calculate 83 homicides? I read somewhere there were 89 in 2015.Anonymous
There were 83 murders, 93 homicides. A homicide is any killing of a human by another human, including justifiable homicides. A murder is a criminal homicide.

Explain in more detail “intelligence-based enforcement,” please.Maxwell Park National Crime Prevention Council
This is “people policing” as opposed to “geographic policing.” In other words, officers will have frequent contact with the most active violent groups and gangs wherever they may be located, rather than focusing on particular geographic areas.

When there are spikes, do you contact clients on both sides? How fast?Oakland Rotary Club
Yes. We will contact victims and friends of victims the same day or the day after, and will reach out with the message that there must be no retaliation. This effort has had a major impact on significantly reducing retaliatory shootings. We also have weekly shooting reviews, after which we promptly redirect OPD resources based on the most recent shootings.

How many of the call-ins result in the attendee refusing services resulting in enforcement, and what does that look like?Anonymous
About 2/3 of the individuals who participate in call-ins sign up for services. Nobody faces enforcement action for refusing services, only for continuing to engage in violence.

What role does Ceasefire play in improving the perceived legitimacy of the police, and is it working?Anonymous
A goal of OPD is to improve police/community relations. We believe that increased focusing on people involved in crime results in more community legitimacy. The improvement probably will occur incrementally, and ultimately needs to be studied, but anecdotally, it seems to be happening.

Of the 83 people murdered last year, what percentage were on Ceasefire’s radar?Anonymous
Answer: The vast majority was involved in groups or gangs tracked by Ceasefire. But because some bystanders were also murder victims, it is hard to answer as to everyone.

How many (or do any) of these men have children? What are the strategies if someone is a father?Anonymous
Yes, many do, and since most of the men are quite young, the children are very young. We have not yet done much work in this area, but we are applying for a grant to provide training for officers on dealing with children of incarcerated individuals.

Does Ceasefire do panels like this with other groups besides MOBN? Like in East/West Oakland with predominantly communities of color?Anonymous
Will you have more summits? Will they be in areas where the crime is happening — East and West Oakland?Anonymous
The Ceasefire team members were guests at a presentation of a community organization. It was presented at the same church used for Call-ins, which has been used as a location because of its neutrality. We are certainly open to making additional presentations at other locations if other groups wish to invite us.

Some of the bad guys don’t want out of the criminal life. Ceasefire call-ins are supposed to be about both service offers and law enforcement threats. Is law enforcement being threatened? Is it being followed up on with joint law enforcement and joint prosecutions?Anonymous
We are not familiar with “threats” to law enforcement connected with Ceasefire. And yes, there is a good partnership with the District Attorney and US Attorney, who assess each case where violent activity continues, determine whether there is a likelihood a successful conviction, and prosecute those cases where a successful outcome is likely.

Is there a natural limit to violence prevention? Boston 25%, Cincinnati 30%, etc.? What should we expect for Oakland’s total reduction?Anonymous
There probably is a limit, but we can’t say what it is and we are not close to it. Under its strategic plan, OPD’s goal is to reduce murders, robberies and aggravated assaults by 30% over the 36 months starting January, 2016.

Tomorrow, we’ll post the answers to questions directed to Oakland’s Human Services Department.

Miss the Ceasefire Summit? Watch It Here!

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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.

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.

Understanding OPD’s New $1 Million Gun Tracing Plan

Last week, the Public Safety Committee met to discuss the Oakland Police Department’s $1 million spending plan to reduce gun violence and trafficking over the next two years. (Watch the full discussion here and read the Oakland Tribune’s summary of the plan.)

With this new budget allocation, OPD will hire a police records specialist and two crime analysts, plus fund overtime for a team that will investigate ShotSpotter calls. The department will also invest in new equipment: three gun microscope cameras, a gun laser scanner, and other technology to support gun database entry and automation.

You can see a breakdown of the costs below.

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(Read OPD’s full informational report here: Implementation of a $1M Gun Tracing Allocation in FY 2015-2017 Budget.)

The committee agreed that the new equipment is absolutely necessary and replaces time-consuming analysis and outdated technology. “Picture an 1800s camera, where you have to stand still and not smile. That’s where we’re at,” said Lieutenant Brandon Wehrly, from OPD’s Criminal Investigations Division.

The new scanners and cameras mean better forensics, efficient investigations, and stronger cases against illegal gun owners and traffickers.

But there was some disagreement, and confusion, about the new personnel. Councilmember Desley Brooks, the chair of the public safety committee, questioned the costs. Would these hires turn into an “ongoing obligation” for Oakland? Would there be a clear way to measure their impact?

During the meeting, it was reemphasized that this is a pilot program. The two crime analyst positions are limited to two years and will only be extended after assessment by the City Council. Additionally, if funding for the police records specialist is not renewed, it will be absorbed into OPD filling a vacant position.

There was also some dispute over the overtime funding for the ShotSpotter team.  Councilmember Abel Guillén asked why not hire more officers or staff instead of paying out $360,000 in overtime?

“Hiring more cops is great,” councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, a strong advocate for the plan, told Oakland North, “but because this is a two-year pilot program, it takes two years to hire a cop.

“The specific concern…was that overtime costs more than hiring new cops. But it actually doesn’t, because for each new cop you have not only the salary but medical, dental, vision, retirement, uniform, equipment, cars.”

The importance of turning ShotSpotter data into action is clear. In 2015, ShotSpotter has been activated just under 2,900 times—sometimes about 30 incidents a day. OPD’s Assistant Police Chief Paul Figueroa said that while this gunfire doesn’t always result in injuries, getting officers out in the community, to “knock on doors,” is an important way of building trust.

In the end councilmember Kaplan, who took credit for pushing City Council to approve the $1 million budget, said the plan is about better gun control and reducing gun violence at the source.

“Every time there’s a murder people ask, ‘Did he hate this guy?’ or ‘Where did he know him from?’ or ‘How did this happen?’ But every shooting happened because there was a gun…and the widespread, easy proliferation of illegal guns in our community is a serious public safety threat.”

Tonight, the City Council will review the informational report and weigh in.