This is going to be short today, because I’m a slacker and put off my taxes until the last minute.
It’s a shame, because I think this is a pretty big deal. It isn’t news to anyone that Oakland has a serious police staffing problem or that we have a ever more serious crime problem. People wonder what the City is doing about it. The Consent to Search proposal has generated a lot of attention, but I haven’t seen anything yet about a much more important anti-crime initiative.
Tonight, the City Council will approve something we’re calling the Central City East Commercial Security Pilot Program. The 18 month project will be funded from $175,000 of redevelopment funds and $35,000 from Neighborhood Service Delivery Funds. You can read the staff reports on the program here (PDF!) and here (PDF!).
Part of the program involves providing crime prevention training to property owners and merchants. But most of the money will be used to pay for 4 armed private security officers to patrol the commercial districts five days a week. They will be patrolling Foothill Boulevard between 23rd and 73d, MacArthur Boulevard between 73rd and 77th, MacArthur Boulevard between 88th and the San Leandro border, Bancroft between 66th and 73rd, and International between 23rd and the San Leandro border.
I’m really glad we’re doing this. I have been advocating for the use of redevelopment funds to improve public safety for a while now. We do it a little bit, but we really should be doing more. There appears to be little or no political will within the Council to push for it. Anyway, I wanted to highlight this initiative for two reasons. First, it is incredibly depressing that our police staffing problem is so dire that we have been reduced to outsourcing neighborhood patrols. Second, this is a smart and appropriate temporary measure that the City is taking to combat crime, and people should know about it.