As many Oaklanders have heard, Mayor Libby Schaaf gave her first State of the City Address last week at City Hall. You can watch the full video and a read a complete transcript on the city’s website, and find recaps in the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune and Oakland North.
Oaklanders are fiercely divided on issues such gentrification, affordable housing,
development, crime and safety. We argue over the future of our city, we disagree. But as the Mayor emphasized, twice in her speech, “We must turn toward each other, not on each other.”
Mayor Schaaf returned to four basic priorities for Oakland that she first outlined during her campaign and at her inauguration: holistic community safety, equitable jobs and housing, sustainable infrastructure, and responsive, trustworthy government.
In this post, we’ll focus on holistic community safety, summarize the Mayor’s positions, and present some thoughts of our own.
Holistic Community Safety
The mayor began by expressing optimism about violent crime trends, citing numbers purportedly showing “Oakland is getting safer.”
For the third consecutive year, we have double digit reductions in non-fatal shootings — down 14% compared to this time last year. Residential burglaries and home-invasion robberies are significantly down, 15 and 54%, respectively. We’ve had a similar number of robberies as last year, which continues to be 27% below the previous 3 years average.
She then acknowledged that murders were up by 15% from last year and at the time of her speech there had been 71 homicides so far in 2015. “I can’t celebrate improvements while overall levels of fear and harm in this city remain so unacceptably high. And behind every number and trend line lies a heartbreaking story of loss.”
That brought us to what was going to change:
- The Mayor announced that 35 new officers were graduating from academy on October 30, that 50 more were in training, and that we were “on-track to meet my promise of 800 officers by 2017.”
- She stated Oakland would use “recently awarded federal grants to hire walking officers for our commercial corridors, expand our 21st century policing reforms, and combat the horrific sexual exploitation of minors in Oakland.”
- She promised that Oakland would strengthen Cease Fire, would expand it to reduce robberies, and would more than double case managers and increase street outreach workers.
- She applauded Oakland Police Chief Whent for recognizing that “policing is about being guardians of the community not warriors within it,” and promised that OPD would “reduce arrests by 26% and use-of-force by 15%, while continuing to bring down crime.”
- She stressed the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the police department’s Procedural Justice Training, giving a shout out to Rev. Damita Davis-Howard from Oakland Community Organizations and PICO’s Pastor Ben McBride for their guidance.
- Finally, the Mayor promised: “By the end of the year we’ll release Oakland’s first Comprehensive Community Safety Plan, crafted by a diverse array of experts. It will create better collaboration and collective accountability for a holistic set of goals—ranging from increasing high school graduation rates to improving reentry support to making Oakland a restorative justice city.”