No, the main thing is getting us more police officers

I really, really, really hope that CBS5 was taking Victor Ochoa’s words out of context. Sadly, I doubt it.

The news story in question is about two recent daytime homicides in Oakland. We’re currently at 68 homicides in Oakland for the year (down from 74 at this time last year. Yippee!).

The story’s main source is Victor Ochoa, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums’s deputy chief of staff. First, police Sgt. Robert Nolan offers the following insights into Oakland’s homicide problem:

“Homicide is still a rare event,” Nolan said. “The fact that we have had a few during the day recently doesn’t necessarily make it a trend.”

and Mr. Ochoa continues:

Oakland police are constantly pinpointing new high-crime areas and redeploying officers as needed, but Ochoa said he didn’t know if there would be more officers working during the day following the recent shootings.

The city has after-school programs to try to keep crime down, Ochoa said. Additionally, the city offers re-entry services like job preparation and placement.

But more needs to be done, Ochoa insists.

The main thing is educating residents about working to make the city safer, he said.

“Community policing means community involvement and that is essential,” Ochoa said. “It has to be a total community effort with prevention and intervention strategies in addition to the enforcement. That is the only way we are going to make a dent in the crime statistics.”

I don’t mean to sound like Charles Pine, but Mr. Ochoa’s priorities are disturbingly misplaced. “Educating residents” is not going to solve our crime problem. The only way we can “make a dent in the crime statistics” is by hiring more police officers! Our police department is absurdly understaffed, and it is disgusting that Dellums’s office would attempt to shift the blame for our crime problems from a malfunctioning city government to the people he is supposed to represent.

6 thoughts on “No, the main thing is getting us more police officers

  1. Deckin


    As you seem to be, I’ve found myself drifting a bit ‘Pineward’ lately (except absent his animus to development). I really can’t for the life of me see why this is even an issue. The city budget calls for 803 officers, no one thinks we have the force to respond to calls in a timely manner, and yet there are still people who feel that admitting that we should have a full police force commits one to some sort of reactionary conservatism. Only in Oakland (or Berkeley). Education is a virtue of the highest order, but exactly what kind of education does Ochoa have in mind here? Is there anyone out there who needs educating about what crime is and what it does? What no one on Oakland’s left (which puts one about a millimeter from Pyongyang) is that one of the greatest educational tools is powerful disincentives. And the certainty of punishment is the most powerful disincentive there is.

    People say it doesn’t work–well, John Ghotti (hardly a physically intimidating man by the time he went to prison) had nary a hair on his head touched while living amongst some of the most depraved and violent men on the planet. Why? Because every one of his prison mates knew that if they hurt him, they’d be soon to follow. In fact, if any of these progressives actually ever knew criminals, they’d know this is the first fact of their existence (and explains most of the crime and violence around us). The deepest issue here is why progressives refuse to impute any kind of rational abilities to the poor and to criminals. They utterly infantilize them perhaps because self hating guilt is, for the progressive, more comfortable than honest respect for who, for whatever reason, are living anti-socially.

  2. V Smoothe Post author


    I agree with Charles Pine that we should have well over the 803 officers that the city sets a a target (although I see little point in complaining about funding more positions until we are able to fill the ones we have). Where we differ is his total disdain for any spending by the city on social programs or other projects aimed to improving quality of life in other ways. We have room for both, and with the increased tax base new residents will bring us, we can have money for both as well.

    Regarding the need for disincentives, I place as much if not more blame on the District Attorney’s office as I do OPD. We have a DA who freely admits to a policy of “We try not to put people in jail.” I have no idea why this office’s complete failure to do its job is not plastered on the front page of every local paper. They say that it is the community’s will to keep people out of prison. Judging from the comments on the Novometro story, there are at least some Oakland residents who agree. I simply do not understand that attitude.

  3. Charles Pine

    Not merely I but all the people who demand a full police department welcome your support.

    As for social programs, we of Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods do not disdain all spending on them. For example, we keep demanding that the City build the branch library it promised at 81st Ave. and Rudsdale for one of the poorest parts of Oakland. That certainly qualifies as a precious social resource for the children there.

    We do criticize the misguided activities at Youth UpRising in support of sideshow culture and racist, anti-woman rappers. We did ask why PUEBLO faced no consequences for fraud and embezzlement by its executives. We have analyzed the meager, expensive-per-case results achieved by a more typical social program, Pathways to Change. For all that, we support a coordinated, properly supervised, efficient set of social programs.

    Still, the key task today remains getting at least 1,100 officers. Without a solid commitment to that goal, hiring even to 803 officers is difficult, because prospective recruits can see the department will remain understaffed for the foreseeable future.

    You are right that adequate police staffing is not an ideological issue. The demand for at least 1,100 police responds to a specific, urgent problem in Oakland. We are committed to solving it first.

    Charles Pine
    Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods

  4. Deckin

    When Ochoa says that murders are a ‘rare event’ it truly is scary. For any particular street corner, I guess it would depend on your definition of rare. But for the city as a whole and certain neighborhoods, to call it rare is both insulting and maddening. Can Ochoa imagine what it must be like to live someplace with gunshots a common occurrence? To have children there? How long before we start a serious recall petition?

  5. V Smoothe Post author

    Charles Pine -

    I think that you would find broader support in your quest for a larger police force if you were not so outspoken against things that many people see as beneficial to the city as a whole, like development and Youth Uprising.

    Deckin -

    It is indeed both scary and deeply offensive. It should also be noted that the homicide total does not fully reflect Oakland’s gun violence problem. People are shot daily here who do not die from their wounds, and the number of those crimes is almost completed ignored by the media and, apparently, our Mayor’s deputy chief of staff.

  6. Surfways

    V Smoothe,

    May I ask you to explain how Youth Uprising is a beneficial program? Note I mean beneficial to all residents of Oakland, not just participants of Youth Uprising.
    I’ve heard that this program actually fosters the side of hip-hop culture that is associated with rap (the kind with bitches, mofos, and ho’s) and sideshow outlawness. Maybe I heard wrong, and would like to hear your perspective in this.

    Pine pointed out that the council members pulled a bait and switch on us when proposing Measure Y. I dont care if they gave some of the “Y” money to good causes or such, they weren’t supposed to collect this tax unless the police force went beyond 739 officers.