Tag Archives: Public Safety

COVID-19 Pandemic: Oakland Needs Your Help

Untitled

Before the outbreak of COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place order last month, Make Oakland Better Now! was preparing for a busy and consequential year. We were fundraising and organizing future events on this year’s top issues like Oakland’s mid-cycle budget and a new ballot measure to strengthen the city’s Police Commission. But like many of you – our neighbors, local activists, advocates, and businesses – our lives and plans were disrupted.

Right now Oakland, as well cities across the country and all over the world, faces a major emergency. The community needs much more help, and our priorities need to change in response.

With this in mind, MOBN! has just donated to the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation, which operates The Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund. This fund was launched recently by Mayor Schaaf and Councilmembers Kalb, Bas and McElhaney as an emergency fund to serve Oakland’s most vulnerable residents and first responders during the pandemic. Among other outreach efforts, it is partnering with The Alameda County Community Food Bank, SOS Meals on Wheels, Bay Area Community Services, Keep Oakland Housed, La Clinica, Oakland Public Education Fund and Working Solutions

These are all entities playing a critical role in providing services we need right now. We strongly encourage Oaklanders to consider contributing to the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation as well or making contributions, whether in time or money, to its partnering organizations.

A few other local entities that can use our help: The Boys and Girls Club of Oakland; East Bay Feed ER, which works to feed the emergency department and the ICU of five East Bay hospitals two meals a day; and Steph and Ayeesha Curry’s non-profit Eat.Learn.Play, which focuses on childhood health and hunger and has been serving over 300,000 meals a week during this crisis.


Right now, the community needs us all. So for those of us who can, let’s pitch in!

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.

 

 

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

Attend The City of Oakland’s Special Meeting on Violence Reduction

Measure Z

On Tuesday, April 30, 6:00 p.m. at City Hall, the Oakland City Council, Safety and Services Oversight Commission, Police Commission and Community Policing Advisory Board will hold the annual meeting required by Measure Z, the public safety parcel tax measure passed by the voters in 2014 that funds police staffing and social services directed at reducing violent crime, and that also established the Safety and Services Oversight Commission (“the SSOC”). We encourage all Oaklanders who are able to do so to attend and participate. Continue reading

Oakland’s Getting Ready For Its First Measure Z Meeting. Here’s What Should Happen

Yes on Measure Z

In 2012, Make Oakland Better Now! and several other community groups got involved in the process of creating a property tax and parking tax measure to replace Measure Y, which funded violence prevention program and was about to expire.  We sought a measure that would fund community policing officers and social services geared toward violence reduction, particularly the then recently re-started Operation Ceasefire program. We helped fund and participate in policy research. We organized community focus groups and other activities to craft a measure that would reduce violent crime and win support. And we actively pursued cooperation with City Council members on drafting the right measure. Continue reading

A Guide to the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA): The Cost

 

In our previous post, we gave a brief history of the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA). Here, we’ll look at the costs and what can be done to get the Oakland Police Department out from under oversight.

How much does the NSA cost Oakland?
In 2015, Rashidah Grinage, from the Coalition for Police Accountability, filed a Public Records Act request with the City of Oakland, asking for all data on the cost of the Negotiated Settlement Agreement. Paula Hawthorn, who serves on the board of Make Oakland Better Now! and is a member of the Coalition, analyzed that data, and found that from 2003 until the time of the request,  the total spent had been about $30,000,000. Continue reading

A Guide to the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA)

15 years and over $30 million later, the Oakland Police Department is still under federal oversight. 

History
On January 22, 2003, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California approved the settlement of a lawsuit between the City of Oakland and 119 plaintiffs who alleged that Oakland police offices had beaten, kidnapped and planted drugs on them in the summer of 2000. The plaintiffs, who were represented by attorneys James Chanin and John Burris, received a payout of $11 million, and the City agreed to reforms embodied in the Settlement Agreement, a list of 51 different tasks which OPD must come into compliance with. These tasks includes reforms in areas such internal affairs, supervision of officers, police use of force, and community policing. Continue reading