MOBN: Oakland needs a comprehensive public safety strategy, not piecemeal public safety proposals

This guest post was written by Michael Ferro, Frank Castro, and Bruce Nye of Make Oakland Better Now!.

On Tuesday night, Oakland’s City Council will address the City’s growing crime problems the way it approaches most problems: reactively. Rather than confronting the issue with a well-thought-out overall strategy, Council will debate piecemeal proposals: gang injunctions, and curfew and anti-loitering ordinances. Make Oakland Better Now! believes that the real solution to the City’s growing crime problem must involve a comprehensive public safety strategy that dispenses with the current piecemeal approach and the “police vs. social programs” dichotomy that divides the City and keeps us from uniting to solve our most pressing issue.

When he arrived in Oakland two years ago, Chief Batts stated that the best way to reduce Oakland’s crime rate was to address three root causes: gangs, guns and drugs. The City responded by shutting down the police department helicopter, crippling the gang injunction program, and taking a series of budget actions that would ultimately cause a 25% reduction in authorized police officer positions.

Predictably, the homicide rate began to climb. Then came the unimaginable horror of little Carlos Nava’s killing in August. Two weeks later, Jose Esparza was robbed and gunned down in front of his 6-year-old son. The cry went out from City Council members to do something. Council members Reid and De la Fuente urged the Council to reverse its action limiting gang injunctions. Council member Brooks led a crowd into Council’s Public Safety Committee meeting to demand the City reinstate its “Shot Spotter” contract, increase lighting in public spaces, hire previously approved crime analysts, and take other immediate actions. Mayor Quan announced a half-day “public safety summit” featuring “strategy sessions, dialogues and/or workshops” on such subjects as “Gang Awareness, Loitering, Racial Profiling, Restorative Justice, Barriers to Youth Employment, Foreclosures, Volunteering and Youth Mentoring, Sexual Exploitation of Minors, Youth Perspectives on Crime, Truancy, Police-Community relationships, Parolees and Re-Entry.”

Many of these subjects are worthy of public discussion. But some are also code words for one side of a divisive debate that has dominated the public safety discussion in Oakland for years. Instead of looking at our public safety efforts comprehensively, Oaklanders have fought each other over the false dichotomy of “police officers vs. social programs.”

On Tuesday, Council will debate three relatively small public safety measures that involve police activity. Well-organized and vocal advocates for the “social programs” side of the debate will likely turn out to attack the proposals as part of a war on the community, and to accuse the police of racism. Residents who favor enhanced police activity will speak on the other side. No matter what action the Council takes, we will continue to have a divided community. We will continue to make no progress at all toward Oakland’s most critical public safety needs: finding ways to restore an adequate number of police officers to the Oakland Police Department, and even more importantly, designing and implementing a comprehensive public safety strategy for the City.

It is clear that we need more police officers (and far more than the 25 the Department of Justice has just agreed to finance). The ever-decreasing number of police officers is taxing the system to the limit; our citizens are experiencing a drastic reduction in police services. We also need focused, measured, and accountable programs to address the underlying social issues facing all Oaklanders today.How do we accomplish this? We need to make sure that all parts of the public safety effort are working together, and are held accountable for making Oakland safe.

We all agree our goal is to make Oakland safer. The organizations dedicated to this goal include not just the Police and Fire Departments, but a host of groups involved in Kids First programs, violence prevention programs, and the City Attorney’s office. So who coordinates the efforts of everyone involved in making Oakland a safer place? Who aligns all of their efforts to make sure they are pulling together? Who ensures that every contributor to the public safety effort shares a common vision? What mechanisms exist to ensure all players in our most mission-critical endeavor are aligned? And what procedures measure whether all participants are successfully making Oakland safer?

Sadly, there is no such person and there are no such mechanisms or procedures. Until there is a comprehensive public safety plan coordinating every person and every program involved in making Oakland safer, we will continue the pointless and destructive debate over cops vs. programs. Until we align, coordinate, and measure our public safety efforts, we will remain unable to effectively address the crime and violence problem in our city.

135 thoughts on “MOBN: Oakland needs a comprehensive public safety strategy, not piecemeal public safety proposals

  1. Oakie

    I would suggest studying what New York City did starting in 1992:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=xfq2ufM1ve8C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

    There’s also a book by William Bratton (which I picked up for 50 cents at the OPL, which surplussed the book), but it’s not very well written.

    NYC went from the most dangerous city in the US (about 17 homicides/100k population) to the safest today (around 5) and the lowest murder rate since the 1930′s(!). Oakland is at around 15, in 1992 and today.

    The reduction of crime was so severe that New York now has a serious problem with too many prison beds. That’s right, while California bursts at the seams, NY has a struggle fighting the prison guard union in attempting to close prisons from lack of criminals.

    The astounding question is what did NYC do? And most relevantly, why has it not been looked at as the basis of turning Oakland around? We are the city that Can’t Do and doesn’t seem to be interested. NYC has proven it Can Do.

    Bratton started as head of the Transit Authority. At that time, it was estimated that about 40% of the transit riders were turnstile jumpers. Think about that: the chumps who were doing the right thing and paying their fare were almost outnumbered by those who did not, and nothing was being done about that. The discouragement, disgust, resentment must have been palpable. Every car was covered in graffiti. It was awful.

    So Bratton started a policy of intense and effective enforcement. It did solve the problem.

    But the most important lesson is not that it solved the problem of fare jumpers.

    It was the ancillary impact it had because of something surprising. Astonishingly, among all the violators arrested, they picked up many many people with outstanding warrants for their arrest in serious and violent crimes, including people wanted for murder! And, of course, found many guns people were packing, many of whom were felons not allowed to carry weapons (above and beyond the requirements for permits).

    Most non-criminal normal people would not have imagined that someone who commits a murder and is known and wanted by the cops would be so stupid that they would not pay the 75 cents subway fare and risk being caught for that and then sent to prison for the murder. Well, you’re wrong. That happens all the time. You almost have to think like an anthropologist to observe the behavior of some of these people. Their thinking and actions are not like yours.

    If you want to do something about serious crime, you need to understand the kind of people who are not particularly troubled by the idea of pulling a gun on an innocent person and doing what they want with you, including killing you if they choose to for whatever reason they have. If you start mapping your middle class sensibilities onto those folks, you don’t stand a chance of figuring out what to do about crime. Unfortunately, that’s SOP here.

    Last year I was driving to leave the parking lot in front of CVS in the Dimond. As I drove, I was sideswiped by another car coming up a side aisle who did not stop. I immediately stopped the car right where it was, got out to see the damage and talk to the driver. Lo and behold, the two people in the car just reversed a bit, calmly and slowly drove around my car and drove out without acknowledging me at all or having a trouble in the world. I was astounded, as were the witnesses.

    I pulled out my cell phone to copy down the license plate and then call 911. The car did not have a license plate.

    Consider these two guys. Do you think they’ve ever been involved in crimes in Oakland? Do you think they may have outstanding warrants for their arrest? What’s the probability they were carrying guns? What do you think they thought the probability was that they would be caught for what they did?

    To me, that was the epitome of what is our current circumstance. We have an awful lot of bad guys out there. They commonly carry guns. They have long histories of crime, including use of violence. And they see Oakland as a playground for them, with very low risk of being apprehended and punished for their misdeeds.

    What I don’t see is anyone thinking outside the box. No curiosity as to how NYC solved their problems so dramatically and how we can do our own version of it. I certainly would not suggest that we simply mimic what they did.

    But I would observe the following:

    They did not do it with any social programs. Full stop.

    They did not do it with community policing.

    They did not do it by increasing the police force (although, to be fair, they had a much larger police force to make changes with—but it was a large force before, so just having a large force clearly did not make the city safe).

    They did develop CompStat, which is a useful TACTICAL technique to force operational responsiveness to neighborhood crime intensity and awareness among the middle management that their performance was being observed. But it is by no means the answer in and of itself.

    They were able to reduce crime very dramatically in a very short period of time. As I recall, they had a 40% drop in serious crime within two years of implementation. Some of what Bratton did at the Transit Authority may have started prior to the election of 1992.

    One last example of what they did early in their turnaround. At that time they had a problem with ‘squeegee men.’ These guys would stand at stop signs are light signal intersections and wait for cars to stop. Then, without asking permission, they’d wash you window (or not) and then ask–neigh demand– payment. Can you imagine? You’re in your car, legally obligated to stop, and there you are confronted by people that are demanding money from you. And may not let you pass until they are satisfied. And no cops to be seen or hope for protection of any kind.

    Pretty minor problem compared to guys with guns threatening to shoot innocents. But by clamping down on these they not only solved that problem and maybe picked up some more guys with warrants out for their arrest for violent crimes, but it changed the mood in a city where the citizens felt like they were under siege. In other words, what we feel today.

    Go read that book.

    P.S. I would like to see two laws enforced, as a starting point in the spirit of what Bratton did:

    Enforce the sound ordinance on thumping cars. I would be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that if cops would start pulling over these cars we’d also find guys with outstanding warrants and packing guns. Their intrusive noise is a clear signal to us civilians that they are in control and a form of intimidation. It disgusts me that the citizens here just turn the other cheek. New Yorkers would not! And that is why they are safe and we are not.

    Secondly, I have seen estimates that up to 40% of all handicap placard users are used fraudulently. I would love to see maximum fines for this raised to the highest permissible level, and using that money collected to reduce parking meter rates and fines for expired meters (i.e. don’t give the city one additional dime of money to squander).

  2. MarleenLee

    When the staffing of the police force is as low as it is now, there is a direct correlation between the size of the police force and crime. Batts said when he started that he needed at least 925 officers. The size of the force has been plummeting ever since. Now we’re at 650. I warned with the passage of Measure BB, it would keep heading down. I was right. And crime has gone up. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this stuff out. The answer right now is simple. We need more officers. Period.

    But since we’re broke, lets focus on what doesn’t cost a lot of money. Curfews and loitering laws. Yes, enforcement will cost some money, but I doubt as much as the gang injunctions. There is simply no good reason not to have curfew and anti-loitering laws, particularly since tons of cities around the country have them. I say go for it.

    You know what else doesn’t cost money? Telling parents to start parenting. This whole concept of trying to get “mentors” and “volunteers” to work with “at risk youth” might all be well and good, but for God’s sake, why not just direct the comments to the parents themselves? How about a campaign that says, “Parents, we’ve had enough of your abdicating responsibility. Make sure your kids stay home and do their homework. Make sure they go to school and graduate from high school. Make sure they’re not hanging around on streetcorners with the wrong crowd. That’s your job! Start doing it already! And all you whiners who claim about the lack of programs and activities – let us remind you that there are some wonderful programs and activities out there that many of you are not availing yourselves of – at SCHOOL!”

  3. livegreen

    + OUSD is losing millions upon millions of $ with these kids out of school. Obviously just talking to the truants didn’t work, or they wouldn’t be truant…

    + I’m sure some of the parents wouldn’t mind their kids hearing it from someone else. It’s the law. If you don’t enforce the law people won’t follow it.

    Duh.

  4. EKA

    good post. but it may be wishful thinking because at the root of the public safety vs. police dichotomy is an unspoken conversation about race.

    IMO, a law enforcement agenda cannot also be a social agenda. what’s best for OPD is clearly not best for ALL the citizens of Oakland. if we allow law enforcement to drive the city’s social agenda, we cannot escape militarization which may exacerbate current problems in the name of public safety.

    we also need to identify the economic stakeholders in gang injunctions and teen curfews.

    social programs work, are cheaper than law enforcement-based strategies, and don’t waste police resources.

    OTOH, you do need an enforcement component. The question is, how heavy-handed should this be, and to what extent should it complement a comprehensive agenda.

    OPD are not very good at reducing violence within their own internal culture, which is part of the problem, according to Batts.

    any solid policy, then, must acknowledge this, as well as the fact that the driving factors in crime are lack of education and lack of jobs.

  5. The Boss

    The reason we can’t copy NYC’s experience is simple. In NYC, cops start at something like $40k a year salaries. Here, they start at $75k. So, we get around half as many cops.

  6. livegreen

    Note Chief Batts had OPD do a Strategic Plan:

    http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/police/documents/webcontent/dowd006183.pdf

    &

    http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/police/documents/webcontent/dowd006184.pdf

    Did the City Council ever adopt it? If so, why haven’t they been coordinating their votes & funding with it? If not, why didn’t they vote to support it?

    We have a leaderless, bickering political class that appoints a good Chief, then fails to follow or enact his recommendations. Apparently they know better. Why have a Chief at all?

  7. len raphael

    TB, NYPD cops start much lower but by the end of 5 years are making in the 80′s compared to our cops starting mid 70′s and ending in the 90′s plus tons of ot.

  8. livegreen

    EKA, “Social programs work”: we have Measure Y & Kids First programs out the wazoo. How’s that working?

    “if we allow law enforcement to drive the city’s social agenda, we cannot escape militarization which may exacerbate current problems in the name of public safety.” Law enforcement is NOT driving any agenda in the City, much less the social one. Oakland has budgeted less money for Police than in past years. If anything, it’s the OPPOSITE, social agenda is driving law enforcement.

    “militarization”: what does this mean?

    Re. “lack of education” so how do you plan to convince all the Truants into school?

    Re. “lack of jobs” so how’s the City of Oakland supposed to hire everybody or get companies to do so?

    This is where the Crime & Safety discussion breaks down. We need ALL. But a good public safety policy should not be hostage to good education and economic policies. All are needed.

  9. Max Allstadt

    Livegreen:

    How’s Measure Y working? Well, let’s see:

    This article is my source for homicide stats year over year: http://www.insidebayarea.com/oakland-homicides/ci_14786462

    Measure Y was enacted in late 2004.

    Notice a trend in homicides before and after Measure Y? I’ll spell it out for you.

    2005-2010: 698 homicides in 6 years
    1999-2004: 555 homicides in 6 years

    25.7% more murders in the years after than in the years before.

  10. Max Allstadt

    Also, @EKA:

    You don’t need to fix poverty and education and jobs in order to bring down crime.

    NYPD’s success has clearly shown that you can bring down crime by ensuring that people know that they’ll be sanctioned if they don’t behave. It doesn’t require massive long term incarceration either.

    NYPD give out a lot of court summonses, and they will lock you up overnight if you fail to appear, but their rate of imprisonment hasn’t spiked particularly.

    So there’s an answer about heavy handed: NYPD is heavy handed in the short term, they don’t let things slide on the street. The courts are more forgiving, so people pay fines or do community service for quality-of-life crimes and then it’s over.

    The net result has been this: A steep drop off in murders, particularly among people of color. Little displacement of the poor and non-whites (from the city as a whole, there has been some displacement from Manhattan, but that’s about real estate prices, really.) No giant jump in incarceration. And all accomplished while the number of officers per capita was going down.

  11. Tonya

    So are you guys saying that the public safety committee is divided btwn pro police and pro programs? Anyone neutral? Who has the most power?

    Race is an issue, but I am sure that safety is important to everyone regardless. The problem is profiling.

    What I like about focusing on small crimes is that there might be less of a chance of profiling. If you jump the turnstile.. You jump the stile.. caught red handed. No profiling needed! :D

    The problem with telling parents to be responsible is that a lot of them are at a point of not caring. Some are even scared of their kids..what then?

  12. Ravi

    EKA: “any solid policy, then, must acknowledge this, as well as the fact that the driving factors in crime are lack of education and lack of jobs.”

    Max and livegreen get it, but EKA does not. The primary drivers in crime are family dysfunction and too many crime-and-violence related social networks (usually gangs). Education and lack of jobs are secondary. Crime continues at a high rate in Oakland while it is comparatively diminished in cities like Fresno and San Jose where socioeconomic conditions are worse than in Oakland.

    Most poor people, and un-”educated” people in Oakland, as elsewhere in the world, do not go out and rob and kill.

    Bottom line, EKA, Oakland has cultures of violence which are self-perpetuating and need to be taken down.

  13. Tab

    Max, I’m no fan of Measure Y, but your post #9 is one of the weakest conflations of correlation and causation that I’ve seen.

  14. Max Allstadt

    Exactly, Tab.

    That correlation was meant as bait, sort of…

    But people who like measure Y and oppose gang injunctions and curfews have been using equally ludicrous correlations and declaring that those correlations provide conclusive proof for their cause.

    There’s a better stat to use, by the way, to consider our murder rate. A running ten-year average. For every year in the past ten, take that year and the previous 9, and take the average.

    Over ten years, there’s been very little variation. We hover around 105, varying by up to +\- 7. What that means is that over the long view, things aren’t getting worse or better. They got marginally better at the end of
    The 90s, and we’ve been stuck ever since.

    Is there a correlation with measure Y? Doubtful. But we can say that we’ve put 6 years of tax money into violence prevention, and our murder rate seems stuck.

  15. Max Allstadt

    Ravi,

    I actually think that poor education and lack of jobs are significant drivers of crime.

    I also think, based on my history as a teenage miscreant, that the ability to get away with it is a huge driver of crime.

    They aren’t exclusive at all.

    What hot-spot suppression tactics do is reduce the perception that crime goes unaddressed. If you don’t think you’ll get away with it, you don’t do it.

    I mean, I know a guy who got a public urination ticket on New Year’s eve in NYC, and didn’t pay it or show up to court to contest it. 8 months later, he gets rowdy out drinking, picks up a city trash barrel and tosses it. Cops spot him, he apologizes, cleans up the mess, but they still check his ID.

    He spent 20 hours in jail for failure to appear on a 60 dollar public urination charge. The judge looks at his case, and just tells him to go home. No fine. But does he control himself now when he’s out drinking? You bet.

    The message that’s sent is: behave like an adult human. And it looks like that message has been received, all over NYC.

    Now, should we, at the same time, be working on jobs and education? Absolutely.

  16. Lee Aurich

    Having listened carefully to Tony Batts, he would be my nomination for pulling together the comprehensive strategy nominated in the post.

    However, I worry about our political system being able to effectively digest and implement.

  17. livegreen

    Yes, we should be working at all 3. But one should not be subservient to the other. All are necessary, and the city needs to have a plan (if overlapping) for each.

    But it doesn’t mean we don’t get started with each before each is perfect. That’s why we need a Plan, Stan.

    And for Law Enforcement, the Plan is with the kid who grew up in the ghetto, knew what it was like to feel uncared for, still did the right thing, still cares about others & made it to Chief of PD.

    He has a plan, now let’s implement it. & if the City Council doesn’t want to vote to fund it (as they’ve done so far) then give an underfunded OPD the resources to do what EVERY OTHER “LIBERAL” City (Phily, SF, etc.) is ALREADY doing: put in place youth curfews & give the [multi-racial] police the resources they need.

    When the City’s safer, the jobs will follow…

  18. livegreen

    & we haven’t even started to talk about middle class African American flight caused by poor education, high crime & black-on-black violence…

  19. ed gerber

    All of the comments about kids needing home discipline by parents forget some facts:
    1. Many(most?) of the homes are single parent homes. I know keeping a teenager in line and out of trouble was tough as a single parent-and I failed to keep him out of the juvenile justice system. Fortunately I could afford a good lawyer to fix the issue and keep him from further involvement.
    2. Too many of the parents are working 2 or more jobs just to make it and have no time left to parent.
    3. Many of the parents had no modeling of parents as they grew up, often in single parent homes ,and don’t know how to parent.

  20. livegreen

    Ed, you’re right, it’s a real conundrum. As Max points out, effective law enforcement can be part of the deterrent. But it’s not everything.

    Now NYC was able to do it with mostly that. But that doesn’t preclude both. It doesn’t preclude Mayor Bloomberg from calling for more mentorship for young african american men. But the reverse is also true: mentorship doesn’t preclude law enforcement & education, exactly as the “two Tony’s” have been calling for.

    NYC took the practical tact over the perfect & implemented law enforcement first. It worked. It’s proven. & Oakland seems to be the few City’s in the country that doesn’t want to acknowledge it because, apparently for our leaders, perfection is the enemy of the good.

  21. Common Sense

    Poverty doesn’t cause crime. Thinking so denies honest people who have no money their due dignity.

    Wall street bankers who have crashed the economy are not poor, yet there are a few of them that deserve to go to prison.

    We need to enforce the law. I agree with the posters commenting on NYC – they had an approach that worked in a very tough environment, without a lot of money. If your solution calls for a lot more money, you are dreaming because California, and by extension, Oakland, are broke.

    Can social programs help prevent some people from going into crime. Yes, and to the extent we have money to offer these, that’s great and should be done.

    But if you think that the members of the Mexican Norteno gang are really going to be swayed by social programs, you are sorely mistaken. This is organized crime, creeping into our cities – it’s the Mexican version of Al Capone and it’s going nationwide. I doubt the 25 year old lieutenants are going to be affected by the social programs.

    We need to be practical. Not chase unicorns.

  22. Max Allstadt

    Education and employment are long term projects that pay off in the next generation.

    But what about life-long hard drug users, repeat offenders, career criminals? Some of these folks can be rehabilitated, some can be reached.

    But there will always be some who are so far gone that the best we can hope for is to simply get them to pretend to be functional adults when they’re in public.

    This, in turn, makes it easier for the next generation of kids to get their education and their preparation for employment in a place that isn’t burdened by an environment saturated with visible desperation.

  23. Chris Vernon

    The drop in crime in NYC did not start until David Dinkins was able to secure a tax increase to hire 7,000 additional police officers. This made it possible to have the man-power necessary to police minor infractions – which Giuliani’s administration did well, combined with Comp Stat.

    If Oakland can’t hire more cops, all of this is just whistling in the wind.

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20100627/ANNIVERSARY/100629861

  24. Max Allstadt

    Chris: the crime drop did begin under Dinkins and with those hires.

    But here’s the catch:

    Roughly the first ten years of NYC’s crime drop coincided with a nation wide crime drop that was almost as profound.

    After that period, nationwide crime leveled off, and NYC’s crime continued to drop, while police staffing also dropped.

    I’m not saying we don’t need more cops in Oakland. We still have fewer per capita than we should have, and fewer per capita than neighboring cities. But the NYC story is definitely not as simple as Dinkins hiring more officers. Bratton’s tactics are what really worked.

  25. livegreen

    Yet many of our elected leaders are the same few in the country that think they know better than Bratton, and better than Chief Batts.

    They don’t seem to believe in Policing. What I really wonder is where Ms. Kaplan and Ms. Brunner stand? Do they stand with Ms. Brooks against more money for police until we have a plan, and then when a plan comes they vote against the funding?

    Or do they stand with working towards alternatives both when we have money, AND when we don’t? Because that’s what the Gang Injunctions and Curfews are.

    Either way I know Ms. Brooks will be against them, and be calling Officers racist no matter what color those officers are. What about Ms. Kaplan & Ms. Brunner?

  26. MarleenLee

    Ed and Tonya: you cite perfect examples of why it is imperative to start calling parents on the carpet. Parents have stopped caring? That is exactly the problem. And since when is that okay? If the child were four months rather than 14 years old, would we be okay with the parent “not caring?” Not changing diapers, not feeding? No! That parent would be arrested for neglect! Parents afraid of their kids? Well, maybe they need to start being afraid of the authorities, afraid of being cited for truancy, loitering, violating the curfew. Otherwise, it’s not just them that are afraid, it is all of us, who they turn their little miscreants loose on.

    And Ed, unless one parent is dead or deported, most kids actually do have two parents. So this whole “single parent” argument is frequently a lot of rhetoric. There are two parents, and they may be raising the kid from two locations, but the kid should still have two parents. The problems start when one of the parents just abdicates responsibility, financial and otherwise. And that is not acceptable, and we as a society need to start holding those absent and irresponsible parents accountable.

    No time to parent? I don’t buy it. Parenting responsibilities should be number one. Poor modeling? Lousy excuse. I know plenty of people whose parents were poor role models (e.g. alcoholics, no education etc.) and they bent over backwards to be different. If people are interested in making excuses, things will never change.

    But your comments illustrate one of the reasons why politicians are so unwilling to call parents on the carpet – because parents vote. They don’t want to alienate all those lazy, irresponsible parents by telling them, God forbid – the truth – that they need to get their act together.

    The anti-loitering and curfew ordinances are a real step in the right direction. They help send a message that the culture needs to change, parents and youth need to be held accountable. Let’s keep the momentum going and support these measures.

  27. Ravi

    MarleenLee: “The anti-loitering and curfew ordinances are a real step in the right direction.”

    I thought ML was the quintessential anti-City-Council-Snake-Oil activist.

    The anti-loitering and curfew ordinances come out of the same jug as Measure Y, MarleenLee. It’s exactly the same snake oil.

  28. MarleenLee

    I don’t see the connection between the anti-loitering/curfew ordinances and Measure Y. To the extent that Measure Y promised us a larger police force, I supported it. But we didn’t get it. I didn’t support the violence prevention component because I do see that as snake oil, not to mention driven by a whole industry of people who profit off these programs, with no proven track record.

    Curfew and loitering ordinances, however, are very common, and do have a track record of success. They are tools the police can use to deter miscreants from hanging out on street corners, cutting school, joining gangs, and making mischief, for a true “law and order” purpose, which I support. They also make parents accountable and are enforced with fines and criminal penalties (totally unlike “violence prevention” programs.)

    Look at the people who support these new ordinances – they lean more toward the “law and order” camp. Maybe not as much as I do, but still….Those opposed? From the “hug a thug” camp. Or teenagers who want to be the foxes running the henhouse.

    Why do you think the ordinances are “snake oil?”

  29. Ravi

    Curfews and anti-loitering laws are snake oil because they are phoney “solutions” to crime problems in Oakland.

    Whatever minor utility such laws may have had elsewhere, they are not appropriate for use here. They arouse the familiar divisiveness in the community when we need all to pull together to put really effective solutions to work.

    These laws are also snake oil because they are business as usual in Oakland, in continuing to sell “problem-solving” projects which are poorly-designed and never managed properly. Just like Measure Y.

  30. MarleenLee

    Oakland needs these laws more than other cities. Why should Oakland have different standards than other cities? We currently do have different standards, and that is exactly what needs to change. We need to stop tolerating and applauding people who defend criminals, their relatives, and criminals in the making. Just listening to the meeting makes me sick – the articulate, passionate citizens who are pleading for measures that will help (not solve) with the violence get shouted and booed. Those that argue for the civil liberties of gang bangers and truant teenages get applause. That speaks volumes.

  31. Ravi

    Oakland is not the same city as others and this won’t change by pretending that it is the same. Experts on effective violence-reduction programs (like David Kennedy who spoke at First Unitarian last night) hasten to point out that any effective program must be specifically designed to reflect local conditions.

    You are right that there are uninformed groups of people who are very confused and biased about the role of the police and how violent activity needs to be dealt with.

    The bottom line is that Oakland as a city needs to come together on our approach to crime. We can’t come together without leadership, but we do not have that leadership.

  32. Andrew H.

    Which council members are in favor and which are opposed to these anti-crime measures? I assume that Schaaf and Kernighan must be in favor (along with Reid and De La Fuente). Does anybody know where Jane Brunner stands on this?

  33. livegreen

    Many other cities have these tools as part of their tool belt. One tool not solving all the problems does not mean it’s not part of the solution. As Marleen & Libby Schaaf have pointed out it is part of the solution in other Cities, & should be part of the solution here.

    The whole reason it’s even proposed is because Oakland is so understaffed in Police Officers that we need to look at these other stop-gap tools…

  34. livegreen

    Ravi is right, the political leadership on all sides is lacking. The shame is on the Administrative side we have the leadership w/Chief Batts. As part of his Strategic Framework to make an effective Police Force, he has advised the City Council both that OPD is under-staffed AND that we need more work/ mentorship with youth.

    Re. our Politicians: at one point our City leaders voted to use Measure Y funds to increase police hiring. Then soon after they vote to slash 80 Officers. Then they also gutted Measure Y (by replacing it with Measure OO) to not have the minimum OPD Staffing (continuing the social programs). Now they’re talking about spending extra money for a new Police Academy to do what? Hire back Police Officers they laid off!

    Our political leadership has NO strategy, and is completely reactionary (sometimes to calls of Police racism, other times to crime stats). They’ve even adopted recommendations for implementing & managing an effective OPD and then, like voting for more Officers, ignored their previous vote, and cut the legs from under those previous recommendations.

    Now they will restart the entire discussion from scratch.

    That is the reason nothing ever goes forward in addressing crime in Oakland.

  35. Izzy Ort

    “we need all to pull together to put really effective solutions to work. ”

    It’s nice to say “let’s all pull together”, but this ignores the reality that on the question of crime, the interests of certain segments of the populace are essentially irreconcilable.

    Crime does not happen in Oakland because of misunderstandings, differences of opinions, or lack of cooperation among people who are otherwise acting in good faith. Nor is it some miasma floating around in the air, as one might conclude from the proliferation of preachy articles about the “plague of violence” Oakland suffers from.

    Nor is it going to be solved by “Marches against Violence”, even if they have rhyming slogans. At best these are about as effective as marching against ghosts. At worst, they are hypocritical, implying “we know that crime is caused by specific criminals in our midst, but we are going to pretend it is some alien force we can frighten away with a parade.”

    Crime occurs because certain people in Oakland want to steal what other people have, and don’t mind beating them up or killing them while they’re at it, and others don’t mind beating up and killing other people just on general principles. As Common Sense correctly noted, these aren’t generally wayward kids looking for a social program to provide them with guidance. Lots of them are bad mofos who are proud to be bad mofos, or wannabes looking for Street Cred.

    They are supported, at city council meetings and in the streets, by enablers of various stripes, including assorted activist groups, homegrown and imported, who view Oakland (particularly East and West) as a grand sort of radical hobby farm.

    This bad behavior is also tacitly encouraged by lethargy and dissembling of many of our community “leaders”, including Mayor Quan, who pays lip service to crime reduction while making excuses to avoid grasping the nettle.

    The skittish attitude of Mayor Quan on the crime-reduction topic makes me wonder if she doesn’t have some lingering fear that exhibiting too strong a preference for law and order (versus its opposite) would taint her progressive credentials, or even be seen as “selling out to the man.”

  36. eye2theworld

    The problem in reaching any consensus or leadership on this issue is both subtle and overt racial politics. Look at how the recent City Council meetings played out. It gets ugly.

    One of the major issues that is missing from any discussion about crime in Oakland is who commits crime in Oakland and why. You cannot fashion solutions without knowing who commits crime and why. The vast majority of people in this debate are afraid to answer that question, including our elected officials, for fear of being labeled a racist.

    As a general proposition, people of all races, ethnicities, ages, genders, orientations, socio-economic classes and educational levels commit crimes. There is no doubt. But in Oakland, the vast majority of crimes, particularly violent crimes, are committed by young black men. These men share similar life histories. Most often they come from troubled and unstable homes where violence, drug and alcohol abuse and low educational levels and unemployment/underemployment are the norm. They are most often unwanted children, are dropouts and have few if any opportunities for advancing up the economic and social ladders of society. This creates a never ending cycle of deeply entrenched poverty with few viable options except gang membership, drug dealing and criminal activity

    Go to the Alameda County Courthouse in DTO on any given day and watch who is being arraigned and who is being sentenced–80-95% black young men. Most of those who are the victims of violent crimes are young black men.

    Everyone, on all sides of this debate, acknowledges one way or another that gang injunctions, curfews, anti-loitering measures, increased policing, enforcement of small crimes, etc. will disproportionately affect young black males and the black community. Yet few are willing to explicitly acknowledge that it is because the vast majority of crimes in Oakland are committed by young black men.

    The result is that some scream that additional policing measures are racist and will result in profiling and oppression as it would target the black community. Others say these policing measures are appropriate response because it targets those who are disproportionately committing crimes.

    The lack of any political will, consensus and leadership is because many of our elected officials , including Mayor Quan, are simply afraid to support additional crime prevention measures, beyong social programs, for fear of being labeled a racist or fear of hurting their ubber liberal credentials and future elections.

    The end result is that we have a disjointed, unclear, and uneffective shotgun approach to crime prevention that throws a lot of money at social programs that have few if any metrics for success and that do not target those most at risk for either committing violent crimes or being a victim of a violent crime. In the meantime, the community suffers from both the appearance and reality of crime resulting in depressed investment, disinvestment and foregone tax revenues.

    No matter how you cut it, most credible studies show that to reduce crime you need to have sufficient numbers of police. This has to be the number one crime fighting strategy. Oakland is woefully understaffed. Having sufficient numbers of officers allows the police on the streets to serve as a visible deterrent to those who might commit crimes, allows the police shorter response times to crimes in progress, thereby, increasing the chance of catching criminals, and increases the investigative functions to either prevent organized crimes or to investigate and close criminal cases through arrest and prosecution. Frankly, it is surprising that people don’t get this as it is only common sense.

    At the end of the day there will be lots of people screaming about racism, Oakland will continue to suffer unacceptably high levels of crime, young black men will continue to disproportionately be the victims of violent crime, Chief Batts will not get the crime fighting tools he needs, and our politicos will feel good that they are not racists and have preserved their positions for future elections.

    Great leadership and great vision for a City with so much potential.

  37. livegreen

    Max, Good comments last night, incl. about the evaluation of OFCY, Measure Y, & Gang Injunctions.

    I also agree with many on both sides that we need a comprehensive crime policy. The challenge remains the City Council seems stuck in it’s ability to craft & pay for one, for all the reasons mentioned.

  38. Gabriel

    Good and truthful comments. I am black and have associates who seem to think that everything that happens to them is because of racism. Some have said it so often they believe it themselves. When African Americans kill other African Americans it needs to be called what it is and that is genocide. If you continue to support racial profiling as the reason not to let police do what they can to stop it, then you contribute to that genocide. We do not exist in a frame of absolutes; both social programs and stepped up policing will work. Only policing protects us immediately. How many more will die before we have to stop having this conversation?

  39. MarleenLee

    Eye2theworld – you hit the nail on the head. But look who is promoting the “new” proposals – Chief Batts – a black guy; Larry Reid, a black guy; Ignacio Delafuente – a Hispanic guy. When people start calling their proposals “racist” and them “race traitors,” then somebody needs to stand up and start calling the name callers lunatics. I hope the three of them have the courage and the will to do so.

  40. annoyed

    That’s why Oakland needs a strong mayor who supports proactive public safety solutions and who also happens to be black. It took Corey Booker to do it in Newark and what’s her name in Baltimore. They rejected that black people are perpetual victims that need to be protected from the police at all costs. They both understand that the jobs black youth keep talking about will never come to their cities as long as there is a high rate of violent street crime.

    Anyone over the age of 50 or so grew up with city curfews. They weren’t considered racist, they were the law and if you got caught violating it, you got a free ride home from the cops and your parents got a lecture. Those were the days kids were more afraid of what parents would do that the cops.

    The bottom line is that we live in a time where we don’t make youth do anything they don’t want to do. That includes going to school, having household responsibilities, knowing there are consequences to their actions, blah, blah, blah. Americans youth are spoiled, no matter their socio economic status. The world revolves around them and this is reinforced hourly by parents who on one end of the socio economic ladder sue schools when Susie gets a grade C, or on the other end, when they go to school and make a scene to the point they have to be forcibly removed from the school. You really expect youth today to submit to a curfew? Not to mention the “no one is going to tell me how to raise my kids” parenting model?

    Many cities have curfews and the sky has not fallen. Teens in these cities come and go to jobs outside the curfew and the world has not ended. Most cities have adult political leadership and enough adults to support adult policies. Oakland teenagers have controlled the discussion on crime in Oakland, and the politicians and the so-called adults have bought into it.

    Crime is complex. There is no one size fits all. It isn’t just poverty, or crack mamas, or whatever other popular talking points exist about crime. Sometimes it is just plain old teen rebellion.

    Finally, don’t confuse who commits crime with who goes to prison.

  41. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Serious question: If the black population of Oakland has dropped so dramatically in the past decade, and young black males commit most of the crimes, why has crime not fallen dramatically?

  42. livegreen

    Only a very small % of the population is committing a majority of the crimes, they have not left the city, the # of OPD Officers is going down, & criminals believe they have less of a chance of getting caught.

    They are right. No matter what race they are.

  43. eye2theworld

    Violent crime and all crimes have fallen drammatically in practically all major US Cities. In a very general and simplistic explanation, Freakanomics posits that the cause for this decline was the passage of Roe v. Wade. The basis for this was that unwanted children eventually are more likely to enter a life of crime as young adults. Prior to Roe v. Wade there were large numbers of unwanted children being born. After Roe v. Wade the numbers of unwanted children was reduced significantly. Follow this trend through time and you begin to see major drops in crime when the post Roe v. Wade unwanted children would have been adults had they been born.

    Look at Oakland and we still have incredibly high crime rates. Perhaps one explanation is that some of our most impoverished neighborhoods, that are predominantly black, were devastated by the crack epidemic. This resulted in lots of broken families, dysfunctional families, single parent or no parent families, grandparents raising children and a legacy of a large numbers of unwanted children being born despite Roe v. Wade. That was the evil of crack. Young black men in East and West Oakland had/have few role models, little family support, and nowhere else to look but gangs and crime to fulfill their social and economic needs. Those families who were able to avoid the crack epidemic and who had the resources got out and fled Oakland to the outer Bay Area suburbs and beyond. Those who couldn’t stayed and the brutal cycle of entrenched poverty and crime has continued ever since. The crack epidemic wreaked havoc on generations. Those that remain are some of the most disadvantaged and find it the most difficult to break the cycle of poverty and significant black on black violence. Either you die on the streets or end up in prison. The are few options for anything else especially when you have incredibly low educational attainment rates and few role models other than the local gangster. The gangster lifestyle becomes part of an accepted and revered cultural attitude that makes it even more difficult to transcend a neighborhood, a community or a city.

  44. Oakie

    eye2: you mean NYC did not have those same conditions in the underclass? Their poverty rate is 20%, as diverse as our city (if not more) and so much larger which makes solving crime problems far far more difficult. And yet it is the safest large city in America.

    We are a city of a mere 390,000. And Oakland is among the 4 most dangerous.

    No more excuses.

  45. ralph

    Annoyed,
    What’s her name is Stephanie Rawlings Blake, and she is, to quote Lauren Fleshman both, “all balls and hot like 16.”

  46. Eye2theworld

    Oakie

    If you look at my posts you will see some consistency and realize we are in agreement. Far from making excuses, I am only trying to identify who commits crime and why so we can fashion short term strategies that allow people to be safe in Oakland, but also provides realistic, targeted long term solutions that will prevent crime.

    NYC has implemented a far different strategy than Oakland. Oakland has decimated its police force and has thrown a lot of money at social programs that have few if any metrics for success. NYC hired a significant number of police and focused on enforcing the smallest of crimes–turnstile jumpers, public urination, littering, etc. NYC made it a point to show that no anti-social behaviors would be tolerated particularly in public and on the streets. And it worked.

    According to Freakanomics, the single most important factor, other than Roe v. Wade, that has had a significant impact on crime rates is the number of police.

    The City of Oakland cannot and will not increase its police force due to racial and liberal politics. We are a city divided, but ultimately a City lead by those who think that throwing more money at social programs will solve crime. All the while we remain one of the most dangerous cities in the US and we lose significant investment opportunities.

  47. Eye2theworld

    Oh yeah MOBN, the person who is responsible for pulling together a comprehensive, coordinated and rationale strategy for dealing with crime is our Mayor, Jean Quan. Like Dellums she seems increasingly AWOL and one sided when it comes to this critical issue.

  48. Max Allstadt

    eye2theworld

    1. NYC’s crime dropped at the same time as other cities, but after the national crime drop of the 90s ended and leveled off in other cities, NYC’s crime kept dropping. And it kept dropping while NYPD began to shrink.

    2. “NYC made it a point to show that no anti-social behaviors would be tolerated particularly in public and on the streets. And it worked.” Exactly.

    However it’s really important to point out that NYC didn’t opt to aggressively punish the people who were arrested for those minor offenses. Instead, they just made sure that they’d get hauled in, put through the system, or given a summons.

    A lot of the summonses result in a warning from the judge and nothing else, as long as you show up to court. The net effect: it made antisocial behavior lead to a major hassle, but not to incarceration or long term stigma of having done time, and not to harsh fines either. But the word got out: act like a jackass, and you’ll spend a day or two shlepping around town going to court or paying tickets.

    So it’s actually about punishment, but minimal punishment. It’s about slaps on the wrist actually working in many cases.

  49. len raphael

    If our elected officials cannot agree on a comprehensive mid and long term financial plan, they certainly won’t be able to come up with a comprehensive non-ideological crime approach.

  50. Gabriel

    I appreciate every one’s thoughtful input and putting into words some things I can only have gut feelings about. I wonder why with the profileration of guns, other law enforcement agencies are not brought in? Doe anyone have the answer to this? I am new to Oakland and do not have quite the political background that it seems many of you in this conversation do, but one would have to be blind and heartless not know that there is something really wrong here.

  51. Scott Law

    good discussion and Max A is spot on, as usual.

    Focused on crime prevention, and to amplify Max’s points.

    I think there are roughly two groups of criminal elements for our city to address.

    Element one is approx 2000 – 3000 hard core parolees/prbationees that are not changing their ways except for old age. This groups should be targeted by relentless police and parole investigation, along with federal/state agencies. We need more police and polce infrascture immediately. There at least 4000 employees of the city that are not sworn fire/police that can be tapped to switch their activities to helping this effort

    The second group that is the fringe “wannabe” criminals that are not as dangerous as the hard core, but need to be addressed with the NYC model just as Max and others point out. It is crucial that these small crimes be addressed quickly as possible. For example, groups of teenagers hassling people in Rockridge after school. One way to accomplish this would be to move misdeamnor court apparatus to the neighborhoods, including judges and DAs. Find can’t retail space, rent it, get the desks, phones, Internet in there and operate.

    Again, a good discussion on our city’s most important problem, next to upcoming bankruptcy

    Scott L

  52. Ravi

    Max: “So it’s actually about punishment, but minimal punishment. It’s about slaps on the wrist actually working in many cases.”

    Mark Kleiman’s (sociologist, UCLA, with a great blog “The Reality Based Community”) recent book When Brute Force Fails deals in depth with the topic of the efficacy of quick, certain, mild punishment for many groups of miscreants.

    Gabriel: “I wonder why with the profileration of guns, other law enforcement agencies are not brought in?”

    They are. “Gun control,” like Prohibition, hasn’t worked. It might work if there were a federal commitment to a national system of firearms purchase data, but the gun lobby is very powerful and has been winning one legal victory after another. This lobby wins for many reasons but especially because gun control efforts have been primarily ideological and absolutist rather than focused on practical harm reduction.

    Scott: “I think there are roughly two groups of criminal elements for our city to address.”

    What is the factual basis for this thought?

  53. Ravi

    Scott: “Again, a good discussion on our city’s most important problem, next to upcoming bankruptcy.”

    They are essentially the same problem, a failure of governance.

  54. annoyed

    Quan does a have a plan if she carries out what she described, it could be a good thing. I can’t believe I said that.

    According to Quan, we are working with other agencies and I believe Quan said we were working specifically with the feds. In San Jose, some SJPD officers have been deputized by the ATF in order to have access to ATF records. It’s forward thinking like that can be effective.

    I have always supported the broken window model in NYC. Of course, here, it would be labeled as racist and a no go. And someone would insist it costs too much. Frankly, anything that would clean up this town and make it attractive for economic development is not too expensive. We have to stop this insular thinking that we must have libraries open at all times and parks available at all times and realize that if we don’t get businesses to come to Oakland, there will be no one to pay the bills. Homeowners should not bear the brunt of this responsibility.

  55. annoyed

    One more thing because I don’t think people are hearing this. Some of the worst monsters come from two parent fully functional families. I’ve seen it in my neighborhood. A fascinating example of this is the series American Gangster. Some of these street gang capos came from middle class families or solid working class families and just went sideways. And yes, some did come from poverty but we could please stop blaming crime on poor people? And please stop blaming all crime on crack babies.

    The crack epidemic created blighted neighborhoods where criminals do their work because they know the residents are the least likely to go to the police. We had a major drug bust in the 1990′s involving many jurisdications and it lasted for three days. It was like an extended scene out of Dirty Harry. The Beat Health cop told me then that the people they arrested were from all over the Bay Area and as far away as the Central Valley. The drug leaders hired local kids to be runners and look outs but not all the folks running these operations are the sons of crack mamas. Get over that thinking.

    Also, when you have grossly immature teenagers running around with guns, it doesn’t matter what their background is. They are going to act impulsively and stupidly.

    A kid on my block came from a two parent home with one parent a stay at home. This kid pulled an armed robbery and when the swat team searched his room, they found an arsenal. In between his armed robbery and his armed sexual assualt, his father informed me his son was not the worst one on the block. The kid grew up to be a monster right under the neglectful eyes of his parents who defended him at every turn until his father threw the lot of them out of the house and got restraining orders. It ain’t just crack mamas. I can tell you that there are variations of this story throughout this neighborhood. My neighbor who is a little league coach and grew up on the streets agrees with me that “good” kids go south all the time.

  56. Livegreen

    The City has existing Recommendations and Frameworks on the books. The Council Council has even voted to support these. Namely implementation of the Hartnett Report & Chief Batts Strategic Framework for OPD.

    But then the Council has voted against FUNDING these.

    I am curious whether the Mayors upcoming plan will incorporate these, or ignore them…

  57. Eye2theworld

    Annoyed,

    Obviously there are kids, teenagers and adults who have come from well-adjusted, middle-class and upper-class families that have gone on to commit crimes. No one disputes that or your anectdotes, but that is hardly the demographic that commits the vast majority of crimes or the vast majority of violent crimes in Oakland. If we are to prioritize prevention shouldn’t we know where the biggest problems are and target those demographics for prevention? No one is blaming “poor people”, but just trying to identify who commits crimes and why. At times, I think it is your line of argument that often turns obvious problems and obvious policy solutions into never ending debates that go down rabbit warrens and that result in stalemates. Are you actually saying that we should do no nothing about poor, black, disenfranchised, broken homes that turn out unwanted children who commit crimes because there is a bigger problem with well-adjusted families whose good kids have gone south? This is about parsing the problem, and focusing on priorities.

  58. Gabriel

    Thanks, Ravi. And I think “annoyed” actually gave an example of what I was thinking of-a significant amount of guns in a home. We know that gun control does not work; however, I thought that since there were so many guns that the ATF could actually do a sweep–or at least a high level investigation. Is that possible? Can the state attorney’s office address this?

  59. Gabriel

    The “example” I was speaking of was the guns in the young man’s room. I would also say that there is a certain boldness that exists when you can shoot a person in broad daylight on a city street. If nothing is done, some type of show of no tolerance, then shooters will get bolder, but God forbid.

    I lost a young friend in San Francisco whose body was left in the street and had decomposed before he was found. I cannot imagine the loss of a three year old to a bullet. I actually also have a friend who was raised in a two parent home who is in jail for murder.

    I think when we speak of social programs as the solution for every problem, we blind ourselves to the fact that there is evil in the world. When I was younger, I lived in a housing development. I was naive. A “family friend” who was older than I once locked me in a basement and took a bat that had spikes driven into it and choked me while he threatened me with the bat. He thought I had taken his drugs and was going to beat me. I did not even know that he sold drugs. He finally let me go. I later found it was his brother who did it. The brother died years later of a drug overdose.

    But I tell you this story so that you will not be naive-a love of money is a root of all evil. You can do job programs, after school programs, leadership programs, but if you turn your eye to the fact that there are some people, some drug dealers, some cons-who would not give a desperate human being $100 to take your life, you too will be naive. As I said, do not confuse growing up disadvantaged with a lack of conscience or respect for life; there is no “one size fits all”.

  60. Ravi

    Gabriel–doing a “sweep” for guns raises the obvious civil liberties questions and well as the critical problem of manpower. There would be endless litigation about any such project and we don’t have the cops, even if augmented by outside law enforcement, to do anything like this. And, of course, even if it could be done, few guns would be found, once the word got out.

    And we don’t need to discuss the nature of evil. Crime in Oakland is a soluble problem and the processes for reducing it are well-known and proven. Why we don’t do it has to do with the quality and character of our elected officials. They may be well-intended but their approach is essentially that of amateurs or dilettantes. City Hall culture is dysfunctional; Council members don’t know what policy making is much less how to go about it. The Mayor hasn’t a clue about what effective management is.

    Bottom line is that we have elected people who can’t do the jobs they need to do. Being a good policy-maker or a good administrator isn’t rocket science. But it does take competence and enormous time and effort. People who like to do this kind of work well are anything but amateurs–they work 80 hour weeks and don’t rest until their goals are accomplished.

    Another important point: if a city like Oakland is going to solve its problems, it needs a vision. None of our electeds has articulated a vision. If you don’t have a vision or goal, you can never tell whether you are moving towards it or away from it.

    If that isn’t quite clear, think for a moment about the recently-departed Steve Jobs. He, and his coworkers at Apple, succeeded very well because they had a clear vision. Apple products were intended to be beautiful, easy to use, elegant, intuitive and so on. We need to have the same sort of intention for Oakland.

  61. Eye2theworld

    Regarding guns and gun control. Please read the following gun tracing study in Oakland.

    http://www.youthalive.org/storage/Gun_Tracing_Report.pdf

    I think you may be surprised.

    Ravi I think you have hit the nail on the head regarding the quality and character of our elected officials. All too often our elected officials fail to act and do the right thing because they are more interested in maintaining their electability rather than solving the problem.

  62. Ravi

    Eye2: I am not surprised by the Gun Tracing Report–it’s pretty much the conventional, well-informed view. Possibly the situation on the street has evolved over the past decade–that would not surprise me.

    The bottom line is that within the existing legal framework, much more effective work could be done on taking illegal guns away from perps and potential perps. What is lacking is the will among the political class, both locally and federally. The politicos like to pass new “genius” legislation which will once and for all time solve the problem. Practicality is more like learning what tools are already there and simply putting them to use. It’s not quite so simple because it requires resources (people and money) and ongoing competent management. So we are back at home base with our lack of political will, political skill and political vision.

  63. annoyed

    Gabriel makes an important point, largely brushed aside here. The issue of how to deal with crime is as much cultural as anything. One thing black and brown people are loathe to admit is that there are truly evil people amongst us. These sociopaths must laugh at all the bleeding heart emoting about job training and after school programs.

    At Tuesday night’s Council meeting, a gentleman recounted a pretty grim list of violent events that had befallen his neighbors and friends in Oakland. When he described one incident, a group of people in the audience opposed to the public safety proposals broke out laughing. They did it publicly, without shame, and without one ounce of admonishment from the Council.

    There are people out here who don’t care about you or your life. They aren’t all actual criminals and they are not all “kids,” either. Some just sit on the sidelines throwing rocks at every effort to make the streets safer and they really don’t give a damn about you.

  64. Ravi

    “One thing black and brown people are loathe to admit is that there are truly evil people amongst us.”

    Annoying, you need to be told directly that you are a racist.

  65. Ravi

    Annoying, I should add something about what you can do about your racism. See if you can find one of those people who are loathe to admit that there are truly evil people amongst us. Tell them that you are a racist. Ask whether they think you are evil.

  66. senseless

    Kudos to the Oaklanders that are risking their lives coming to these meetings and speaking about the need for curfews and gang injunctions. Does the City Council and other social programmed citizens know that one of the gangs mentioned in the injunction are part of a Super gang that is active in more than a dozen States and dominates the California prisons? Their crimes were so noticeable that they were featured on History Channel’s Gang Land! Let’s support Chief Batts now before another Super Gang with Salvadoran roots and tattooed faces starts moving into Oakland. Batts knows gangs, he had to deal with them in Long Beach.

  67. Eye2theworld

    Frankly, there are a lot of people, regardless of color, in Oakland who are in denial about our crime problem, and are in denial about the proven methods to address crime. Importantly, racial politics prevents us from having a rational, open discussion on the issue. I see where Annoyed is coming from. It is clear there is serious frustration among a huge contingent in Oakland that feels the African American community is playing the victim and race card too often rather than owning up to the serious problems of high dropout rates, broken families, high crime rates, and drug and alcohol abuse. You see Bill Cosby addressing this issue head on and a few others, but that’s it. On the other hand, it is clear that there is a large contingent in the African American community that feels targeted, harrassed, and oppressed and has the weight of history on their shoulders.

    Now I don’t necessarily think Annoyed is racist, since I do not know him/her and cannot judge the context of his comment. But it is true that there are lots of people in denial. Rather than calling Annoyed racist, I would just ask him/her to clarify his/her statement and further explain what he/she means and whether they believe that denial is more prevalent in certain communities and why? It may very well be the case that some communities are more likely to be in denial. In my opinion, the aspect of denial is enabled by our liberal politics which dominates the political debate. Time and time again we have chosen the path of social programs to the detriment of police enforcement. I do not see any evidence that approach is actually working. If it’s not working why do we continue down that path? We do so because of racial politics, liberal politics and ideologues. There is this unwavering idea that if we just throw enough money at social programs people will choose the right path to become productive members of society and we will solve poverty and crime. The debate needs to focus on who commits crimes and why so we can fashion realistic solutions. But enforcement must be part of the solution.

  68. annoyed

    First of all, Ravi know nothing, I am black. I have believed in and practiced black self help for a long time. If you think for one minute that Martin or Malcom would be “down” with the cultural toilet in our community today, you are insane. Malcolm always said to get off your knees. Why don’t you try it? Quit begging and quit blaming others for what is killing our community. And quit blaming poor people for crime. The middle class has bought into the same gangster stupidity as those who are struggling. Get over yourself. You read something you disagree with and right away it has to be racist. Sorry, pathetic and immature.

  69. Ravi

    Annoying: You did a very good job of coming across as a racist. Allow me to suggest that this success reflects a very sorry lack of understanding on your part. Just because you are black does not give you the right to blame entire groups of people for some sort of irresponsibility. It’s simply naive at best.

    I am indeed putting some blame on a specific group of people in Oakland’s City Hall who have failed to develop and follow through on the anti-violence policies which have worked elsewhere and which we have every right to expect to work here, given proper management. This was very much the point of the original post. City Hall has essential control of all the resources that we as a city can bring to bear to solve our problems. They have failed over very many years to do so and I think it is important to place the blame squarely on their shoulders. So that in time they may be replaced with others who can do the job.

  70. Ravi

    Eye2: Most of the Oaklanders I know, and especially those who live in my neighborhood, who are of every sort of ethnic origin, do not blame “the African-American community” for denial about the seriousness of crime here.

    Of course there is denial out there. But the critical denial is that which has been institutionalized in our elected officials downtown. The critical nexus of denial is not in any particular ethnic group in Oakland.

  71. ralph

    Annoyed strikes me as a person who cares. Annoyed is anything but racist. Annoyed dropped a truth that people do not want to acknowledge. People need to be held accountable for their actions and the great liberal segment needs to stop sympathizing and blaming the environment.

    If you want to blame someone, blame the absent parents. Yes, city council has not acted but to be fair the people who need to be disciplining Johnny Rotten are the people who brought him into this world. If the Neglectfuls want to leave the care of Johnny Rotten to the state, then Johnny Rotten will get a curfew. My tax dollars, my rules!

  72. annoyed

    You know, Ravi. You really have consistently displayed a lack of basic reading and comprehension skills not to mention critical thinking. I didn’t say what you said I did but frankly I don’t care what you think because I have nothing to prove to you. I’m positive I talk to more black folks in a day than you do in a month.

    Eye to the World: How do you know what the economic status is for the vast majority of those arrested? is this info published somewhere under Oakland demographics for arrestees?

    As for what I am saying, it’s simply this: Crime is committed by people from all demographics based on my experience. Most poor people end up in jail because they can’t afford decent laywers. I”m not sure why this is such a difficult concept to grasp. This does’t lead to endless debate. What it leads to is an open discussion about what kind of community standards we want to have in Oakland for ALL people instead of labeling public safety proposals as racist because they mostly affect black and brown and poor people. Never mind that the lion’s share of violent crime in Oakland is committed by black folks.

    (As a footnote, I’m also sick and tired of black and brown being synonymous with poor people. You are aware of black middle and upper middle class populations in Oakland, right? )

    For example, the sideshow is something that terrorized mostly East Oakland flatlands for nearly twenty years. Not only did most people not give a damn, a lot of people defended it because of some mumbo jumbo about punishing poor people. Never mind that people commuted in from all over the Bay Area for the sideshow, nevermind that poor people can’t afford high performance cars (cars period), the gas and tires required to play in the sideshow, it was labeled by the ignorant–but okay let’s say well intentioned–who decided this was something poor people did and it would be wrong to pick on them for it. To hell with all the families, working people, seniors who were terrorized by the sideshow, if it got labeled as something for poor folks, it was allowed to continue. Even if the label was a big fat lie.

    People in Oakland do the same thing with crime. It’s based on poverty, etc. etc. So why is crime dropping all over the country if crime is linked to economics? What is different about Oakland? Is it our tiny police department that no longer responds to a long shopping list of crimes? Is it because any public safety proposal that is nearly a no-brainer in other cities becomes a referendum on racism? Is it our shocking public school drop out rates? Is Oakland the poorest city in the nation?

    In NYC, nobody cared about the economics of who committed the crime. The bottom line was the City would have one community standard and everybody would have to live by it. NYC provided support services to those who needed them but the City just would no longer tolerate anti social/criminal behavior. It’s called the broken window model and I support it but it has no chance in Oakland because it would be labeled racist that would pretty much kill it.

  73. annoyed

    Thank you, Ralph. I’m taking a break from this. I forget I’m not on a black blog and talking to people who really have no clue what I’m talking about.

  74. len raphael

    senseless, i never felt like i was risking my life speaking at the cc at the first GI meeting. Catcalls yes, and yes I left before the first vote just in case. But personally at risk, no. S

    If that’s your reason not to go speak up at CC meetings on crime, you’ll need to find a better one.

    Annoyed: NYPD’s approach was a combo of tactics and strategies. A central one, extremely agressive stop and frisk, would never be permitted in Oakland by Judge Henderson. He would carry thru on his threat to take over OPD. (fine by me)

    I have seen what you mention about bad kids coming out of good families. Any patterns you’ve noticed? eg. In the Latino community, gang membership often crosses generations in very traditional intact families.

    -len raphael, temescal
    http://noonoaklandparceltax.blogspot.com

  75. ralph

    Len,
    In all fairness, one should not dismiss another person’s feelings because you do not feel it. It is real to the person.

    The lack of respect shown by the anti-crime individuals is enough to make anyone not want to attend a council meeting on crime. Their outburst can be discomforting.

    My only wish is one day, Council President Reid will have those balcony yellers removed. It is no longer enough to tell them they will be removed if they continue. We must remove them when they continue.

  76. senseless

    Len, I am with you not against you. Please understand that I have a family and I am fearful of what these “super gangsters” are capable of, especially with video and cameraphones that anyone could use at City Hall. More and more I am hearing news of how unstable Mexico is because of the endless drug war that is going on down there. Mexico replaced Colombia on the illicit drug trade and the druglords are supplying these national gangs that were filmed on History Channel or You Tube. I was only commending you and the others for standing up at City Hall, because the danger is real for citizens who have had enough and want to speak up about the need for gang injunctions. You’re standing up for me and my family. I just wanted to express my appreciation for what you and other citizens are doing for Oakland, CA. I just hope the City Council gets it and votes to support our Chief and give him the tools he needs to combat these super gangsters who are being backed by a multi billion dollar industry.

  77. len raphael

    senseless, my remark was unfair. for all I know, if the audience at CC were more evenly balanced, and CC actually made a decision to something other than study or cut the baby in half, tempers would flare into violence.

    The good thing about these CC meetings running so long, is that everyone is too tired at the end to yell.

    it is physically intimidating to walk up to the podium with the screaming going on, knowing that what you say will crank up the yelling.

    Larry Reid is an ex marine. Why is he letting people get away with screaming their interruptions? Jane Brunner did a better job at maintaining decorum.

  78. len raphael

    Quan is big on block by block, I think of violent act by violent act; mugging by mugging, break in by break in, intimidation by intimidation that we get used to in Oakland.

    And i’ve gotten so inured to it myself to the point where i’m annoyed senseless hadn’t.

    yeah, this is nuts for anyone to have to consider whether it’s safe to speak at a cc meeting.

  79. Mry

    @Len, Judge Henderson taking over OPD would be fine by you? Not me thank you very much, they don’t get more anti police than him.

  80. len raphael

    Mry, if the alternative to Thelton taking over OPD is a dept mired in paperwork to comply with the Judge’s oversight, spending millions? on monitors to review the paperwork, cops who now think 5 times before stopping someone, yet the dept still seems to have more than it’s share of abuses, then yes, let the Judge take over and see if he can do any better.

  81. Mry

    I’m confused Len, is he not part of the reason they are mired in paperwork? Granted, somebody agreed to all of these reforms, but I think they are set up for failure. I’m willing to bet there is not one department that lives up to those standards, let alone one with the crime we have. Why does the judge not realize this?

  82. len raphael

    Mry, i’m only half facetiously saying we should call Judge Thelton’s bluff. As some have pointed out it’s not a bluff but a promise.

    Either way, once he’s in charge the blood is on his hands directly, instead of indirectly the way it is now.

    I’m sure the Judge is well intentioned and putting civil liberties at the top of his priorities. One can say that’s his job.

    -len raphael
    Yes on Oakland, No on H,I,J
    NoOnOaklandParcelTax.com

  83. Eye2theworld

    Jean Quan’s crime summit. More of the same old failed approaches. Neighborhood watch and crime prevention councils do not work if there are no police to respond. What is classic is that the interim Police Chief is parroting Ron Dellums: You cannot arrest your way out of crime. Oakland has never even attempted to do so. You cannot call it a failure unless you have actually tried it. Looks like Jordan has already drank the Quan kool aide. Sad news for Oakland residents looking for relief from unacceptably high rates of crime. Sad news for economic development and growing the tax base.

  84. Ravi

    Sr. Eye–Your observations are my own. It is the same old, same old. I did see a woman from the recall Quan group there, but didn’t have a chance to have a chat with her. I fear that a recall will be the only way for Oakland to move ahead on crime before Quan is replaced in 2014.

  85. len raphael

    unconfirmed report from an NCPC chairperson at Quan’s crime meeting: because Batt’s secured the Federal funding to start immediately, the only way to provide the 25 cops is to take them off other beats.

    Can’t hire back any of the remaining 40 or so of the laid off 80 cops because they all found other positions in other cities.

    That forces Quan to start another academy or hire cops from other cities. Either way a bad situation.

    Quan called for residents from outside of the 100 block targeted area to volunteer in the area. Yeah, sure.

  86. Mark B.

    I know a recall will be expensive but which is more expensive (and most likely, deadlier)?

    The recall or 3 more years and change of Jean Quan’s policies and proclivity to appease her political alliances at a great price to Oakland residents?

  87. Patrick M. Mitchell

    I thought the 100 block area’s specific borders were not being released. How can one volunteer in an area that is unknown?

    All this is going to do is push the crime into the areas adjacent to these 100 blocks.

    No on H.
    No on I.
    No on J.
    Recall Mayor Quan.

  88. Eye2theworld

    Does Jean Quan seriously think that volunteers, block by block community organizing and some more social programs are really going to solve one of the worst crime problems in this country? Is she such a naive ideologue or has the City seriously run out of tools and resources and this is the only thing she can bring to the table? Oh yeah I shouldn’t forget that Jean Quan and Jane Brunner among others politicos have essentially tabled the gang injunctions, anti-loitering laws in front of liquor stores and curfews because of racial and liberal politics. Residents cannot and should not be playing cops and robbers with robbers who have real guns and a proclivity towards real violence. Neighborhood organizing with neighborhood watch and NCPCs is predicated on the assumption that you call 911 and actually have someone answer instead of getting a busy signal and then actually have the police respond within 4-5 minutes. Why is deterrance such a dirty word and why does our Interim Police Chief immediately start parroting Ron Dellums?

  89. Ravi

    Eye: “Is she such a naive ideologue or has the City seriously run out of tools and resources and this is the only thing she can bring to the table?”

    Quan is less an ideologue than simply a political narcissist. Everything she does in the name of the “community”, the block-by-block stuff or the crime summit, is done to keep herself in office. She has no real interest in solving problems, or indeed any ability to do so.

    IMHO Oakland does indeed have abundant resources to reduce crime; to do so requires reallocations which are poltically risky, thus not on the table.

  90. Livegreen

    There are plenty of areas outside the 100 block radius that are seeing an increase in crime & murders. This “plan” will not affect them. A “plan” for a 100 blocks is NOT a plan for all Oakland.

  91. Patrick M. Mitchell

    @Livegreen: excellent point. A reallocation of resources is inherently unfair to those from whom the resources are taken. OMG it’s communism.

  92. Max Allstadt

    It’s not a 100 block radius. It’s 100 scattered individual blocks.

    As for them not being released, I find that odd. They showed a map at the summit, highlighting the hotspots. I live in one of them. That map is a public record. I imagine they have to give it out if they used it in a public presentation.

  93. Livegreen

    Matier & Ross reports “Batts was particularly upset that the mayor ordered him not to speak before the City Council when it recently took up the antigang injunctions and curfews for teens that he had requested.”. Is that legal?

    Can the Mayor legally prevent staff from answering City Council questions?

  94. JB

    Len- The department is planning to run a lateral academy for the dozen or so Alameda County academy graduates abandoned by the City mid-academy. This lateral academy should begin in December and last for eight weeks. It will then be followed by 16 weeks of field training. The academy may also include a few former officers who resigned but wish to return. These additional officers will not add up to 25, and they will certainly not cover the attrition between now and eight months from now when they are finally able to operate independently. So, yes, the 25 officers (+ five sergeants) who will be assigned to the middle schools will have to come from patrol, further reducing the ranks of those answering 911 calls.

  95. Ravi

    Any academies can only partially address the normal attrition rate of about 50 cops a year. OPD will continue to get shrink, steadily and surely.

  96. len raphael

    MB, my inclination is that recalling Quan without having anyone better to replace her isn’t worth the effort that could be devoted to significant charter reform.

    And by that I don’t mean a rainy day fund when we’re headed into a multi year financial hurricane; or a 3 term limitation for council members when the root of the staying power of incumbency is union “volunteer” campaign labor.

    Thinking about how on the East Coast quite a few democrat pols have realized the consequences of the pay and retirement benefit obligations they created over the past decade. Like drunks with a terrible hangover, democrats like Cuomo have resolved to try to fix some of the worst fiscal abuses they created.

    But here in Oakland, the only politician ready to hit a 12 step program for Oakland is IDLF.

    So yes, if he’s willing to face the gruelling and the grilling again, residents should ask IDLF to run for Mayor if we can recall Quan.

  97. Chris Vernon

    If anyone is still reading this string, is anyone familiar with the work of David Kennedy? He’s a criminologist who was instrumental in the ‘Boston Miracle’ and helped cities across the country close down drug markets and reduce violent crime.

    What he describes in his new book ‘Don’t Shoot….(long subtitle)’ is a way of policing that seems highly targetted at the very few people in any given city that are really likely to wield a gun and use it on those around them. A roughly similar approach is used with drug dealers choosing to sell in overt markets by playing on group dynamics of gangs.

    As opposed to the blunt instrument approach which New York employed – part of which involved the use of gobs of policemen stomping on the civil rights of many who’s only crime was to be living in targetted neighborhoods, Kennedy’s approach is to only go after THE REAL GANGSTERS and to shut them down. No random stops for no real reason, etc.

    This approach promotes real buy-in from the community. Imagine people in East Oakland actually being willing to call the cops! They are no longer seen as being the enemy.

    It also has the significant advantage of not requiring massive resources, which Oakland does not have and won’t for the foreseeable future.

    Oakland is listed as having signed on to this new coalition of cities that are adopting this approach:

    http://www.nnscommunities.org/

    Hard to see any real results yet in our fair city – maybe it hasn’t really been launched yet. The idea’s are simple, but as the author says “there are a lot of moving parts” to make it work.

    Anyone know anymore about this? If it’s real, it looks intriguing.

    Chris Vernon

  98. Ravi

    Chris Vernon: “Anyone know anymore about this? If it’s real, it looks intriguing.”

    Kennedy spoke here last week. His type of program was first offered here eight years ago, funded by the S.F.-based Haas Foundation. One of Kennedy’s colleagues works here in Oakland at the Public Health Institute.

    Dellums refused to fully institute the Ceasefire programs because he couldn’t face the political upheaval that comes from increasing arrests of criminals. Ceasefire works with a carrot-and-stick approach. You offer jobs and training and you offer jail, for real.

    In the eight years following, Oakland’s “call-ins” (an aspect of Ceasefire) have offered social services but not threatened prison. Oakland’s gang leaders made the corporate decision to boycott the call-ins.

    Oakland doesn’t want to do the Kennedy program in a way that can be effective. Read Kennedy’s book with some care and you will find that he says that dealing with crime is not the problem, the problem is dealing with the “good” guys–the electeds.

    Welcome to the real politics of Oakland. We have all sorts of ways to deal with crime, but not the political will or leadership.

  99. Ravi

    Len: Without some big political shakeup, like recalling Quan, Oakland will never get off the dime. It’s that simple.

    IDLF is a disaster for Oakland–muddle-headed, inarticulate, totally unfocused. He’d be as bad as Quan as Mayor.

  100. Rust Belt Refugee

    I lived in Boston through the 90′s and the changes that occurred were dramatic. I watched existing neighborhoods “improve in place” and saw the residents get the benefits of greater safety and better local services/businesses. But then a statewide ban on rent control, followed by the tech boom, created a huge wave of population displacement and gentrification later in the decade, so it’s impossible to view the long-term effects in isolation.

    I moved directly to the East Bay from Boston in 2000, and quickly learned that we have a very different kind of policing here. The Boston police I interacted with were clearly community members serving their community. Here, I always feel like the cops here are outsiders paid to come in and assert control. Most of my interactions with OPD have been positive or at least professional, but BART police or SFPD… not so much.

  101. Chris Vernon

    Ravi,

    Thanks for the additional info.

    Given that this is a model that seems to work, and yes, I did read the book and noted what he said about dealing with the ‘good’ guys – this seems like a directioin we should push for.

    You sound defeatist. This is a small city that has similar problems (both with good and bad guys) as noted in the book. What we need is not resignation, but concerted will to make it happen.

    If this is for real, then we need to DEMAND that we move in this direction.

    Chris

  102. Ravi

    Vernon: “You sound defeatist.”

    Speak for yourself. I’ve been involved with these problems for years. I want to sort the bullshit out from what’s useful.

    If you had been paying attention for more than a moment, you would understand that these demands have been made over and over again to City Hall. I suggest you speak to some black ministers in East Oakland or Barbara or Ron at OCO. Get yourself a little history.

  103. Ravi

    Also, Vernon, there are lots of groups now working on these same problems. Join one like MOBN for instance. There are lots of others. Go to your NCPC meetings. Arrange a chat with your CC member and sell Kennedy’s ideas to him or her. You can also make an appointment for a chat with the Mayor. That would be real eye-opener for you.

  104. annoyed

    According to a Governing Magazine article a few years ago, the Boston Model did not keep crime rates low. After a couple of years, crime crept back up. The NYC Broken Window Model led to long term reductions in crime in NYC.

  105. Ravi

    According to David Kennedy who helped start the project in Boston, crime rates went back up after Boston stopped running the program. Apparently Boston is starting the program up again.

  106. len raphael

    Rav, how would Ceasefire fit in with our current structure of non-profits providing specified programs? Would it be hard to retool them? :Would they see Ceasefire as a threat to their income?

  107. Livegreen

    Most if not all the Cities where Kennedy has done his work had twice the # of Officers as Oakland. Whether it’s Boston or Bratton in NY and LA, it took more Officers than Oakland has to do it.

  108. len raphael

    This piece could just as well have been titled
    “Oakland Needs a Comprehensive Strategy, not Piecemeal for Dealing With (fill in the blank)

    Finances
    Economic Development
    Transit
    Landscaping
    Education
    Beautifying the Chiodo Creature

  109. Ravi

    Lenster–

    Good questions. Yes, I think (and some of those who formerly were on the inside in City Hall said this) that the pols see Ceasefire (or similar potentially effective programs) as direct threats to their patronage. It is also important to recognize that the multitude of social programs were set up as patronage rather than as means to reduce crime, although reducing crime may have been a fantasy. The social programs were set up so as to make it impossible to measure their effectiveness in reducing violence. There are so many programs that managing each of them and coordinating them with other services is an impossibility. We could, theoretically, bring 40 or so programs down to just a few so they could me managed but under the current political regime that is highly unlikely.

  110. len raphael

    Rav, yeah. the pols, the cops, the ngos, and the non security muni unions all have a vested interest in the status quo.

    add in other special interests who say want a particular real estate development approved in return for election pac support, and the firmly held belief by about 28% of the voters that the ruling pols are doing the “progressive” thing, makes it really tough to change things here.

  111. livegreen

    I agree with all of that, Ravi & Len, but I believe other cities implemented Kennedy’s programs with existing, traditional Municipal & County service and social programs.

    One thing that’s definitely missing that Kennedy included were GED programs: OUSD has cut most of it’s funding for Adult Ed.

  112. annoyed

    http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/Murder-Mystery.html

    If you want to know what David Kennedy really said you might read the Governing article that I referenced in the above link. The key comment is on follow-up in the NYC Model and the challenges of follow-up in the Boston Model.

    The link below is to an analysis of the Boston Model by the Kennedy School of Governement and in which David Kennedy participated.

    http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/soc/faculty/winship/End_of_a_Miracle.pdf

  113. Ravi

    Annoyance: If you have a point to make, then make the point as clearly and succinctly as you can. Linking to an article which includes a series of observations doesn’t lead this conversation anywhere. Which I must guess is your purpose–that of pretension and derision.

    The first article makes exactly the point I made in my earlier observation.

    Now exactly what was your point?

  114. Ravi

    LG: Kennedy makes the point, as do many other workers in anti-violence efforts, that each program implementation has to reflect local needs and resources. The Boston program in its first phase took a very location-specific approach which was highly effective. Local knowledge of criminal networks is extremely useful as are appropriate community resources. But all this requires very competent overall program management and coordination, which is notably lacking in Oakland.

  115. len raphael

    Ravi et al, maybe it’s not so much which strategy one implements, but how well the strategy is implemented that makes all the difference?

  116. len raphael

    To hijack this open thread for a second, what’s the sense among DTO residents about Occupy Oakland at this point?

    Me, I’m grateful OL diverted the media’s attention from covering Quan and CC majority’s possibly illegal electioneering move the other night to counter the opposition’s publicity about Measure I’s failure to specify how funds would be spent. That’s a legal requirement for parcel tax.

    Measure I was intentionally written so broadly that it could be spent on practically any General Fund purpose except maybe for debt service and city council salaries.

    Quan and the majority of the CC didnt’ want any more of those pesky Measure Y lawsuits getting in their way.

    The resolution, as even the council members voting for it conceded, is completely non-binding. Pure spin.

  117. Livegreen

    There’s a lot of unpaid people running around City Hall who seem to b doing more than advising the Mayor. They seem to b actually working in between the Mayor and departments, including the City Attorney and OPD. It begs the question: is this legal?

  118. Livegreen

    Oops, sent too soon: For example, a recent Chronicle editorial says “Another source of tension between police and politics has been Quan’s assignment of an unpaid adviser, attorney Dan Siegel, to work on police reforms in an effort being overseen by a federal court-appointed monitor. Siegel has sometimes been at odds with Batts, and has been at cross purposes with the city attorney’s office, which is supposed to be the city’s representative in the case.” http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/10/16/EDC81LA3UB.DTL

    What “work” on police reforms is he doing, and is he either between the Mayor and Chief, or telling OPD how to implement the NSA?

    We know he’s already delivering City legal opinions too. What’s the Mayor’s family of volunteers telling other departments to do?

    This is all very strange…It’s like we have a parallel government.

  119. Ravi

    Lenster–About the “proper” strategy, I’m inclined to agree that there may be many different tactics which could work well in Oakland which have worked elsewhere and need only some modification locally. The problem is setting real goals (e.g. Batts’ “the safest city in the state” or murders reduced by 50% in a year; certainly not Quan’s “reduce crime”) and actually managing everything well enough to meet the goals. City Hall can’t set goals and it can’t manage with our current gang of electeds.

  120. len raphael

    LG, as Tammerland Drummand put it, City Hall does seem to be living in it’s own parallel universe.

    The way they’ve embraced the Occupy Oakland people is emblematic. If Scott Johnson’s piece in the Trib tonight is accurate, OL has gone from Woodstock to Altamont Pass in record time. (google that if you weren’t around for the Summer of Love to the Winter of heroin in SF)

    Would have thought that Quan, Siegel, Nadel, Brunner would have learned something from history. But no, they weren’t hippies but lefties like me back then. (full disclosure, I slept thru Jimi Hendrix playing the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock).

    You know where this going to end: someone will get killed or raped and Oakland will have to pay millions for negligence.

    -len raphael, recovered SDS member and Woodstock attendee

  121. len raphael

    Rav, despite Perata’s many glaring flaws, he nailed the problem with Oakland government dead on during one of the Mayoral debates.

    Kaplan had just delivered her pitch about all the great changes she was going to implement at city hall (the only one I can remember is her silly one about putting the Biz License dept online).

    Perata followed Kaplan and with a slight smile, remarked that her goals weren’t a platform.

    They were simply a list of what typical functioning city governments normally do, but not Oakland.

    -len raphael
    Vote Yes On Oakland
    by VOTING NO on H,I,J

    (email me for lawn signs len.raphael@gmail.com)

  122. Ravi

    Lenster–I’ve had the same thoughts, many times recently, about Perata. He, with all his flaws, at least lives in the same world as the rest of us.

    But don’t blame the idealists of the 60s for the likes of our City Council. Young idealists are likely to grow up to be rational, competent, productive members of society. I doubt whether our disconnected Councilmembers were idealistic youngsters; they are now essentially adolescents living in a narrow world of self-importance. My guess is that when they were young that they equally immature for their years and were completely undeveloped in terms of social consciousness.

  123. Ravi

    Annoyance: The correct way to phrase your question to me is “Reading and comprehension ARE still hard for you, aren’t THEY?

    Keep working on that GED. Once you get to Laney, your English teacher will turn you into a real scholar!

  124. Livegreen

    Has anybody seen the Mayor’s Safety Plan? A 2 page power point, with very few details. This is not the “comprehensive” plan MOBN has called for.

  125. Ravi

    LG: Yep, the Mayor’s “plan” is the same old pile of uncoordinated and largely ineffective programs, stuffed into a new Powerpoint. She can’t stop playing the same old game. Possibly more folks are getting savvy to exactly why she is completely incapable of solving problems.

  126. annoyed

    Notwithstanding my error in using the singular instead of the plural, the links I posted did not prove your case. Proving, once again, that you cannot read and comprehend.

    http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/Murder-Mystery.html

    “…And that may offer a partial clue to the puzzling discrepancy between Boston and New York crime rates in the past couple of years. Researchers who have studied Ceasefire-style interventions say they are weak when it comes to follow-up. They tend to produce dramatic initial results–and then fall apart. “They’re hard to sustain,” admits Harvard criminologist David Kennedy. “They take an awful lot of assembly. They’re basically simple, but it takes a lot of moving parts to put it together. Some are so dramatically effective that there comes a time when there’s really not much work to do. People gather around a table and ask each other, ‘Has there been any violence?’ People say, ‘No,’ and if that goes on long enough, the partnership weakens. Violence picks up and people move on, and the script has been forgotten.”"

    In the Harvard paper, follow up was identified as the weakest link for any model. It’s not hard to see that follow up that involves a range of stakeholder participation is going to be more challenging to sustain than one that relies mainly on the police. That is one explanation why NYC has had long term success and Boston has not. Now do you get it?

    At Franklin’s Zimring’s talk on Sunday, he said the trade off for aggressive style policing is that while NYC has had dramatic drops in crime, they also have had a dramatic drop in drug related violence and a dramatic drop in incarceration rates. His statistical analysis show that for the period he analyzed, there was a huge increase in top and frisks of primarily black and brown males in specific areas of the city, lower murders of the same demographic, less drug related violence, and lower incarceration rates. Don’t believe me, read his book. He does not conclude that aggressive style policing is the answer. He lets the stats speak for themselves and lets the public draw their own conclusions.