Oaklanders asked to weigh in on OPD strategic plan

You have probably read by now at least something about the Oakland Police Department’s new stategic plan framework (PDF). The Chief’s ambitious goal of making Oakland one of California’s safest cities within five years is obviously exciting, as are the specific emphases on improved police/community relations and departmental support for officers.

Whether it’s doable or not of course remains to be seen. However, the Chief’s record in Long Beach, both in terms of reducing crime and also restoring community trust of the Police Department, makes me optimistic.

New plan, Old concept

Of course, it isn’t like the concept of strategic planning is new to OPD. There have been frequent stabs at creating such plans even just in recent years. There’s this one from 2007 (PDF), for example. And of course there was the ongoing Crime Fighting Strategic Plan (PDF) efforts discussed repeatedly at Council (PDF) meetings during 2008. These discussions were probably most memorably summed up in a presentation to the Public Safety Committee, where Committee members were told that the bottom line is “We can’t arrest our way out of the problem.”

Consistent with that statement, the Crime Fighting Strategic Plan (PDF) documents and presentations generally characterized the Department as practically helpless with respect to crime reduction, taking the general position that the Police Department, no matter what they do, can have at most a limited impact on Oakland’s crime rate.

There are a number of factors that contribute to changes in crime: socioeconomic conditions, community involvement, and the school system are three significant factors. While the Police Department’s impact is important, it is limited.


While there are strategies that provide a toolbox approach to specific types of crimes, there are no “national best practices” for crime reduction. Oakland in comparison to cities of like size has both common and unique crime problems.

Another common thread in the discussions was essentially that crime in Oakland isn’t actually that bad, and that perception is worse than reality. Perhaps in some neighborhoods that’s the case, but of course many people would like to think that all of Oakland’s residents deserve safety.

A noticeably new approach

The new Strategic Plan framework (PDF) and presentation (PDF) unveiled by Chief Batts last week represent a sharp (and welcome!) departure from that attitude. Both the Chief’s letter introducing the framework (PDF) and the introductory charts in the presentation (PDF) (see pages 6-17) make no bones about the fact that the level of crime in Oakland is beyond unacceptable and the Department’s current response to reported crimes is deplorable. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

As with any plan, it is important to define the current reality or starting point as well as the destination. Unfortunately, the current reality is not very positive. Oakland is not a safe community – in fact it is among the least safe and most violent in the US. Services provided to the Community by the Police Department are nowhere near the standards that should be expected. Many good people in the Community do not trust the Police Department and live in fear of the police as well as of criminals.

How refreshing! What’s that thing they say about problems? You can’t solve one until you acknowledge that it exists or something like that? Yeah. So just the recognition that the status quo is not acceptable represents a huge step forward.

Basics of the new strategic plan framework

The framework lists five strategic goals, along with a set of actions related to achieving each of them. I won’t copy it all out here, since the document (PDF) is basically just a set of short, bulleted lists and if people are interested in reading the whole thing they should just go ahead and download it. It is a very fast read, since, like I said, it’s basically just an outline. The goals that frame the plan are:

  • Focus on the underlying causes of violent crime in Oakland – Gangs, Drugs, and Guns
  • Improve police services provided based on the Community’s priorities
  • Improve the relationship between the Oakland Police Department and the Community
  • Develop and implement a “Total Community Policing” model in Oakland
  • Expand the capability of the Oakland Police Department to meet its Mission

OPD seeks community input

Perhaps most refreshing of all is the Chief’s serious effort to work with Oakland residents in crafting the plan, which is supposed to be ready in a final version this summer. Over the next two weeks, there will be a series of community meetings to solicit feedback on the framework. People should go!

Here’s the schedule:

  • Wednesday, March 3: Montera Middle School, 555 Ascot Drive. 6:30 to 8:00 PM
  • Thursday, March 4: East Oakland Senior Center, 9255 Edes Avenue. 6:30 to 8:00 PM
  • Wednesday, March 10: Willie Key Recreation Center, 3131 Union Street. 6:30 to 8:00 PM
  • Thursday, March 11: Manzanita Recreation Center, 2701 22nd Avenue. 6:30 to 8:00 PM

If you can’t, or for some reason don’t want to, make it to any of the meetings, you can still share your thoughts. The Police Department has put up an online survey to collect feedback from residents. Questions are basically all open-ended, asking residents to share their own ideas for reducing violent crime, improving OPD services, and improving the level of trust between the Department and the community. Additionally, residents interested in participating in implementation working groups are invited to leave their contact information and areas of interest. It’s so refreshing to see the Police Department reaching out to citizens like this.

BTW, the Library wants your input too!

Oh, and one more thing. As long as we’re on the topic of City surveys, the Oakland Public Library is also currently soliciting patron input. As you guys may remember, all OPL branch libraries were reduced from six day per week to five day per week service in August as part of the City Council’s budget decision. The library is now evaluating the new branch schedule and is looking for patron thoughts on Monday vs. Saturday service, morning vs. evening hours, and for patrons with children, the most convenient periods for storytime. Also, there are open ended questions where you can offer general feedback. The survey ends after this weekend, so please, if you are a library user, take a few moments to fill it out. You can find the survey here: http://surveymonkey.com/oplpatronsurvey.

60 thoughts on “Oaklanders asked to weigh in on OPD strategic plan

  1. MarleenLee

    I’m happy to see “resolve Measure Y compliance issues” on the list of priorities. However, I can’t say I’ve seen any recent movement in that direction. No police academies have been scheduled in over a year, and the police force is now at around 770, way under its authorized strength and the staffing promised by Measure Y. Without a decent size police force, I just can’t imagine Batts being able to do what he’s promising. Also, recently, people have reported to me that their PSOs have been pulled off their assignments on a long-term basis (over 6 months) or on a regular basis (one shift per week). These are “compliance” issues that seem to be getting worse, not better.

  2. Ken O

    @Marleen: heresy! Didn’t Dellums just say that we had had success with reaching our 2005(?) goal of “803 sworn officers”? Shame on you.

    For those of you who support a semblance of civil order, you’ll be happy to know that OPD as of this month is actively pursuing setting up an Oakland Police Foundation. OPD’s already received monetary donations with which to pay for supplies and training, which is a step in the right direction.

    I pushed for creation of an OPF back in 2008, researched what regulations and conditions needed to be met in order to create a foundation in CA. At the end of it all, I found out there actually WAS a barebones “sort of” OPF already in existence with a board of directors. They were just staying off-stage, I assume, until a real police chief came on board.

    You get what you pay for, and in America we believe for paying for things we receive — except for parking.

  3. Brad

    Didn’t someone on this site previously post a template for requesting a refund of the Measure Y tax? Can that please be reposted? I, for one, would like to request my refund.

  4. Mike d'Ocla

    In order to understand what the OPD Strategic Framework really means, one needs some background in state-of-the-art police theory and practice. If OPD is to be more efficient in reducing crime, there will need to be lots of citizens who are up-to-speed on policing–so that the City Council and the Mayor can be helped to understand how they can be helpful rather than a hindrance (as they certainly have been in recent years), and constantly re-reminded of the direction we want to go so that they don’t get lost again.

    There are a number of Oakland citizens who are quite savvy about police matters and they have been active behind-the-scenes, advising the Mayor (some of these citizens were responsible for the selection of Chief Batts) and supporting community policing (by working in the Neighborhood Watch groups and Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils). These citizens and organizations are completely ignored by the mainstream media and the Oakland blogs.

    Measure Y has not been very effective, since it was designed by a committee (the City Council) with no real understanding of organizational management or of policing. Nevertheless, what little community policing resources Measure Y has provided need to be preserved and expanded.

    If you read the Strategic Framework carefully, you will notice references to total community policing as compared to “split” community policing (which is what we have had in Oakland–a little community policing and a lot of good old-fashioned military-style policing.) The military-style stuff doesn’t work to control crime or to create community bonds and Batts is clearly committed to total community policing. If the citizens of Oakland, and their elected officials will provide the support, then we can make things a lot better here.

    Carping about taxes and about failed past legislation is not going to bring us the future Oakland we want and need. There’s lots of good info on community policing and evidence-based police work on the net. A good place to start is the National Network for Safe Communities. Lots of good reading there.

  5. Ralph

    Also where does one obtain the police staffing data for Measure Y refund? I filed a claim but was rejected because I lacked sufficient evidence. If someone has a template, I would love to have a copy.

  6. oakie

    Not sure where to begin here.

    First off, how many people know there were 4 charges of domestic violence against Batts while he was in the LBPD? Did you know that 2 mid-level cops sued LB as whistle blowers because Batts tried to modify the police reports–and they won $3 million dollars for it? They said they would gladly not have sued if LB would simply implement a whistleblower protection law. As to Mayor Sleepy’s proclamation of Batts’ selection as “community consensus” I’d sure like to know what public notice there was before the selection so that we in the community could have come to an opinion about whether he was a good choice (I assume we are considered part of the community).

    Mike seems to know people in the community who are knowledgeable, but for the life of me I have seen no one in this city talking the real talk about how to greatly reduce our crime. Community policing is nice, I suppose, and pointing fingers at those who object to the abusive taxation and fees in this city to support the corruption and nepotism and general incompetence we get for our money doesn’t ring interesting to me.

    Reading through the 5 goals of the framework doesn’t really meet my criteria as anything that would represent something that would lead to real change in this city. In fact, I would say it represents more of the same. And I’ve watched for 30 years as this city has done nothing but decline, and spend more and more money doing it.

    I would suggest anyone who really wants to know how to turn this city around ought to study what New York did in the turnaround years of the early 1990′s. I’ve read one comment on this site by someone who said ‘but that involved electing a Republican to become mayor.’ Apparently that would be beyond the pale. And I think it is far more telling about what’s wrong here than anything I can write.

    I think it has nothing to do with the fact that NYC elected a Republican. It had to do with political will to do what was needed to turn the crime problem around. In the late 1970′s NYC was in such decline that no one would buy their bonds and there was great risk of defaulting. It was a real mess. By the early 1990′s, NYC was the most dangerous city in America. Then the city elected Guliani as mayor, kicking out Dinkins. The head of the transit police, Bratton, started to change policies, and eventually became the head of the NYPD. Within 3 years they saw a 20 percent drop in violent crime, and eventually a much much larger drop. For several years now, it’s been the safest city in America (from being the most dangerous). In fact, this last year saw the lowest crime since the FBI has been recording data in 1960:
    In 1990, Oakland was nowhere near as dangerous as NYC. And in only a few years, they turned their ship around, and in the meantime Oakland has gotten more and more dangerous. And over these years we’ve been doing exactly those things outline in the framework. Community policing, community priorities, reaching out to assist those likely to become criminals, blah blah blah. What a bunch of hooey.

    Several months ago I saw Bratton’s book in the surplus stack at the Rockridge library. I bought it for 25 cents. It sure speaks to how much interest there is in Oakland for what they did. So I guess I can’t suggest you pick it up at the library and read it so you can understand what they did (I would also suggest Bonfires of the Vanities, and all 5 years of The Wire for further reading/viewing). Unfortunately it’s written like a celebrity quick write, but I was able to glean enough from it to understand the basics and gave me sufficient food for thought to consider how we could do what they did—if (and unfortunately therein lies the rub) we had the political will.

    Bratton started (at the transit police) by aggressively arresting fare hoppers. It was estimated that 30 percent of the riders where, at that point, fare hopping. And the trains were a mess, entirely saturated with graffiti. Amazingly, among those caught fare hopping, they found lots of people with outstanding warrants, or in possession of guns and knives, and even some wanted on murder charges. It seems, unlike how we would think, that thugs act like thugs in every aspect in their life, so in fact if you’re willing to enforce the simple laws, you will catch some of the worst thugs.

    Later, they started to go after the ‘squeegee’ guys. It was common practice for people to stand out at traffic lights and wait for cars to stop, wash their windows (not very well, of course, and most definitely not with permission) and then intimidate the drivers to give them money.

    All in all, the strategic “framework” was to turn the ennui of a thug-friendly world, where the thugs felt absolutely no fear of being caught or punished into a world where the thugs felt people and cops were watching them and would go after them when they did something against the law. Ultimately, they either went to jail/prison or they left town.

    And that’s exactly what happened. In fact, the New York state prison system has somewhat of a crisis because they have so few criminals populating the prison system. That is amazing, and in spectacular contrast to the state of California.

    I know of nothing in the approach in NYC involved community policing, reaching out to people susceptible to a life of crime, ramping up the size of the police force, increases in taxation, “Expand the capability” of the police (although, as a tactical matter they did invent compstat–but that is not a strategy, contrary to Oakland politicians making that claim because they have no clue what really needs to be done).

    Oakland is not NYC, and so how to implement the NYC miracle in not identical to what they did (IF we had the political will to actually do what is necessary–which we do not). For example, we have a phenomenon here of thugs driving on our streets blasting music so that normal people walking on College Avenue can have conversation at talking volume. This is a form of intimidation and expression of the power of the thugs: they act with absolutely no fear of interference from cops or citizens. We do have a sound ordinance, and it is not enforced. Of course.
    Can you imagine if it was the policy for cops to pull these people over and ask for their driver’s license. And if there was cause, to search the vehicle. How many would not have valid licenses, were not in possession of insurance, were in possession of weapons, had outstanding warrants, and on and on. In fact for a soft crime, I would imagine we would catch quite a load thugs ready for the DA.

    Which brings me to another problem which should not be a problem. Of course there is a natural friction between cops (a city function) and the DA (a county function). Cops are always, everywhere, bitching about the failure of the DA to prosecute. Note that Guliani was DA in NYC.

    Are you aware that several months ago the Alameda County DA retired in midterm (a la Sarah Palin)? With his announcement he also announced his anointed successor. With a bit of bickering on the Board of Sups, they agreed and now we have the new hand picked DA. Who will now run for RE-election. With no opposition.

    Given the criticality of how the DA policies affect the ability of Oakland policing to support the kind of prosecutions that best meet our needs, here we have a system that is akin to a Soviet electoral system. And have you heard one peep of complaining about that? Again, there is absolutely no political will and it demonstrates why democracy is not working here.

    In the last election I worked hard for a new candidate for the city council (I like to call the Seven Dwarfs). Naturally, he lost badly, garnering only 25 percent of the vote, so the person who had already been on the council for 16 years continues in office (all those years over which NYC turned their miracle and we got worse and worse). During the campaign I worked a table at the Temescal farmer’s market. I had all those statistical comparisons to NYC available to show and ready to discuss what they did and what we could do. A guy came up to the table and listened to my spiel. Then he told me he was from New York, visiting his son. And then he smiled and pointing at my chart showing the murder rates (Oakland is 28-35 per hundred thousand, NY is 5) and said he is quite aware of the crime stats and although the weather is good here, that’s why he continues to live there. I have never been interested in living on the east cost, ever, but in that moment I felt very jealous.

    BTW, the murder rate in iraq is estimated to be 14.

  7. len raphael

    O, The info about Batts domestic violence allegations wase publicized, at least in the neighborhood news groups and a little here. There was something odd about the situation, with his wife a prominent politician not pressing charges? I’m not defending him, or his wife. There seemed to be a mutual conspiracy of silence that info would hurt both ambitious hubby and spouse.

    Don’t think you’re correct that NYC didn’t greatly increase the size of their police force during Bratton’s term. Zimring’s “The Great American Crime Decline”, page 149 “Beginning during the term of Mayor D Dinkins… the number of ft police employees grew from 39400 to 53000 in the 1990′s, or 35%” “increased the rate of employees per 100,000 population by 23%” to paraphrase: NYC added more police dept employees than the total size of the police depts of 8 of the 9 large cities and almost as many as the total number of police employees in Chicago.

    That’s not to say that more cops were sufficient to drop NYC’s crime more than other cities in that time period, but it could well have been necessary.

    Agree w your point that there is no magic in community policing or compstat, but maybe in broken windows, maybe not.

    Just a professionally well run OPD would probably show vast improvement in crime prevention and community relations, without any special methods.

    M, yes there are police policy wonks and wonkettes in Oakland just the way there are the same in public transit arena.

    In many ways the mass transit analysts have much easier job than crime wonks.

    Bus schedules and fuel costs are much easier to analyse than human behavior.

    Even a professional crime wonk like Zimring ended his book by by concluding that at best you could conclude that between 1/4 and half of the crime decline in NYC in the 90′s was the result of changes in policing, and he didn’t sound that sure of the upper end of the range.

    -len raphael

  8. Dow Chemical

    When noise ordinances are enforced, police do indeed find dope, guns, parole violators, stolen cars, etc. I would like to make noise code enforcement a priority for our NCPC, but there is always a bigger problem ahead of it, & nobody seems to understand what a problem solver enforcement of nuisance laws can be. Like the guy said, thugs are thugs in all aspects of their lives.

  9. Livegreen

    We need more Investigators, period. You can’t make more arrests & solve the backload of open cases without more Investigators…

  10. Ken O

    lg we need to lay it on thick to the judge/panel overseeing the so-called “riders settlement” to move some of the 20 opd investigators investigating OPD misconduct into the Criminal Assault Investigation Section… which has only 8 investigators.

    talk about misuse of public funds!!!@#$

  11. Ken O

    Oakie, I also volunteered on Pat McCullough’s campaign. A lot of people who read ABO did.

    We lost to a soft-on-crime wimp named Jane Brunner. She’s certainly not in the minority on the council. Which indicates how ignorant voters are.

    And then people wonder why crime is so high in Oakland.

    It starts at the top with permissive, fraud-ridden management, voted in by you-know-who.

    http://www.ORPN.org has a point. Oakland could be like Alameda. We’re not, so the city eats up young couples, who flee.

    I’m not so sure about Batts’ ability to turn OPD policing around. Will wait and see but not for more than a year or so.

  12. Brad

    Are there really 20 OPD investigators tasked solely with investigating the other 750 OPD officers, while only 8 investigators are tasked with investigating the thousands of violent assaults that Oakland residents endure each year?

    How can that possibly be? Who would have asked for that and/or agreed to that? Even anti-police brutality advocates would know that their constituents (the people of Oakland victimized by the police) are not going to be well off if the non-police assaults aren’t investigated.

    Can anyone post some history of the “riders” settlement? Who represented the parties suing the city? Who was on the City Council when this settlement was agreed to?

  13. V Smoothe Post author

    Extensive information on the NSA can be found here and here. One often can’t help but wonder if the people who complain most loudly and frequently about the NSA have bothered reading any of it.

  14. Ralph

    V, thanks for the links. Whoever did the work on the city website did a good job. In the old world that site was useless. Now it actually has info that people want and need.

  15. V Smoothe Post author

    I actually find the City’s new site much more difficult to navigate than the previous version. None of the information on the site has changed, nor has the information architecture in any substantial way. But the navigation is just wretched. It’s as though nobody involved has ever so much as glanced, even in passing, at an interaction library.

  16. livegreen

    V, Is it something in particular that makes you wonder if some NSA critics have read it or not?

    I’m sure some have and some haven’t (as with anything) but the NSA is one of the bottle neck for having enough investigators to take on the case load OPD has.

  17. len raphael

    NSA falied to end opd abuses judging by last few years successful lawsuits, and succeeded in overly chilling aggressive policing to the point where cops went to the other extreme and reduced some cops would say eliminated pro-active policing. A few million$? in fees to monitors, another 700k for the extension in latest budget doc. A lot of comfy desk jobs for street cops.

    Can’t blame the NSA for the way Brown and the police union staffed IAD. The NSA did not require cops for the investigative role.

  18. Livegreen

    I really don’t understand how civilians untrained in Investigations are going to investigate anybody. If untrained civilians are qualified to investigate OPD, then why not put them in charge of investigating other crimes?

    Instead I prefer Marleen’s idea of outsourcing to experienced, independent contractors…

  19. len raphael

    Lg, all i know is what a reasonable person who was part of /connected to the separate oakland civilian review board told me that that board has civilians who learn how to do it. Sure, marleen’s suggestion sounds good too. But until very recently nothing different was tried.

  20. len raphael

    LG, if brown, opd brass, cop union, burris had been serious about implementing the NSA, one of them should have blocked the appointment to head IAD the cop who it seems was an open secret was involved with a possble coverrup of the circumstances of the death that prisoner 8 or 9 years ago.

    I can understand burris having a stake in ineffective implementation. that only made more successful lawsuits for him down the road.

    Gotta wonder what Judge Henderson was doing this whole time. Seems like he was evaluating the program based on process not product.

  21. Livegreen

    The incident involving the Lt. of whom you speak was not necessarily know to everyone you mention. It was known, however, to ex-Chief Tucker & is one of the reasons he’s gone. Thank God. According to news reports he was told about the incident & approved it anyway. & it was OPD officers who alerted the press about the incident. (Somebody in the Dept cares about what happens to civilians, unlike the Press and some politicians would like us to think).

    Under Tucker operating OPD was very political. Hopefully that is changing…

  22. len raphael

    lg, in a small close quarters organization like opd, very hard to believe that Tucker and only two other people (the lt and the eventual whistleblower) kept it a secret for years

    Generically called the police “code of silence”. http://www.aele.org/loscode2000.html

    things you wouldn’t talk to the civilians about because they “wouldn’t understand” what it’s like to be in chaotic fast changing situations where you have to make life/death decisions based in insufficient info. then the stuff that happens afterwards..

    so, unless someone out there has talked to a few cops to find out the reality, I’ll presume the organization and it’s closer associates knew the rumors for years.

  23. len raphael

    code of silence behavior exists in other high stress life or death organizations beside police and the military.

    hospitals for example, where a mistake made on say an 85 year old patient who is dnr (do not recusitate), or even a 45 year old homeless drug addict with multilple illnesses, is much less likely to be reported than the same mistake on a 45 year old middle class patient.

    when you add in probable rampant balkanization of the opd into various fiefdoms that is likely to have occurred under weak leadership, there was no percentage in reporting possible violations of human rights of a guy like the arrested man who died.

  24. Livegreen

    Len, You mentioned that if Brown, Burris, etc. had been serious about implementing the NSA, one of them would have blocked the appointment of the Lt. in charge of IAD. All I pointed out was it was Chief Tucker who made the appointment and who was told about the cloud hanging over said Lt.

    Unless u know something I don’t and have specific info that Brown and Burris knew about the Lt.’s background, it’s not obvious to me that they would know about the Lt.’s background (if u have such info that’s great, please share). As for OPD and it’s cone of silence ( :0) it was the Chief’s decision! Is a disagreeing Capt. or DC supposed to hold a press conference & publicly disagree with the Chief, thereby ending their career? No, they leek it to the press. & that happened, & that is not silence.

    & I still don’t understand the linkage with the NSA. So far your speculation seems like just that.

  25. livegreen

    BTW, Further to my comment about OPD under Tucker being political to the extreme, I base this on details that were given to me by a senior OPD Officer. But don’t take my word for it. Read an ABO post by Don Link in early 2009:


    Marleen, Don’s comments play into the reason the PSO’s were being shifted around Oakland against the rules of M-Y (at the time we were told our PSO had been “borrowed”). I don’t know if you’ve already dug deep in this area for your lawsuit or not…

  26. len raphael

    lg, heck yes i do think a capt or dc should have gone outside the chain of command after their superiors deep sixed a full inquiry into the a prisoner’s subsequent death possibly caused by injuries while in custody.

    could they have done it the way the whistleblower did years after the incident, maybe.

    no i doubt if brown knew about. he didn’t pay much attention to details like that.

    my point about burris was mostly that even though his participation is part of the NSA, his economic interest does not coincide with our need to run OPD more effectively in a way it gains community trust and greatly reduces the causes of the costly and very possibly justifiable settlements.

  27. livegreen

    Len, I think your expectations are unrealistic. First if a Capt. or DC even tried to have a press conference on their own, not necessarily having their own press contacts, etc. would be both difficult & would probably be found out before it even happened. Then they’d get fired on the spot without any info even getting out.

    Secondly it’s unrealistic to expect an Officer to do something they’d get fired for, would probably kill their career, and thus the financial status of not just themselves but their family.

    Instead the Chief got to make his decision (most likely in part political, as mentioned before), some Officers went about leaking that info to the press, and the Chief was held accountable. So why are you saying some Officers did something wrong, when they did something right & the Chief was forced to resign?

    You’re ulterior theory of what could have happened or should have happened is unrealistic, but even if it were, irrelevant, since what you want happened anyway just in a different scenario.

    And explain to me again how this is relevant to the NSA? I think you’re proving V’s point…

  28. len raphael

    LG, not a press conference. Even in a top down org, especially one that went thru the NSA, process there must be a way for police to go above their commanders, outside the chain of command if they disagree with their commanders, short of holding a press conference. if there isn’t such a mechanism, there should be.

  29. livegreen

    Since the Decision went to the top of OPD, I don’t know where else it would go to.
    The Mayor? Unless you’re talking about Whisleblower status.

    Media leak seems like it worked pretty well to me, and in an informal way serves the purpose you mention.

    The fundamental problems with Tucker were that he was extremely political and extremely anti-community policing (= “going native” + switching the PSO’s out of CP roles that ultimately led to Marlene’s lawsuit).

    An Officer I know was very candid with me about the disfunction Tucker created in OPD due to political alliances and patronage. I think this might (“might”) also explain the incident with the Lt. you mention. Don Link’s post also points to that. Here’s another example:

    I was also informed that DC Kozicki was promoted because he was willing to carry out Tucker’s new & disruptive schedule of alternating Officer’s working hours. This was implemented against the will of the OPOA & Officers, esp. those with families and two working parents. Tucker told DC Israel to either implement it or he would find somebody who would. Israel still refused to do it, so Tucker promoted Kozicki.

    Not exactly creating loyalty or high morale among most Officers. Combined with what Don Link mentions you can tell he was not only political & divisive, but probably sewed the seeds for the leak of the Lt. & other bad press that sunk him.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword…

  30. len raphael

    lg, what am i missing here? the way i view the situation is that a person might have died because of opd excess use of force and then despite credible internal reports raising that issue, further investigation was tabled and the alleged responsible commander promoted to head up the investigation of all cops

    if true, this is hecka more serious than anything the Riders might have done. They were never accused of doing something that led to a death.

    I would presume that if you’ve stayed within the chain of command and they buried it, then an officer should either report anonymously to the DA or the City Attorney or both.

    it’s finally starting to dawn on me why poor people of color in this town distrust opd.

    -len raphael

  31. Livegreen

    Len, My recollection is that the Lt pressured his subordinates into denying that he’d done anything. Plus at the time it was a beating and the admitted drug dealer was hospitalized. He died several weeks or months later. So it could b not all the connections were made right away or followed up on. I also don’t know at what point IAD became involved & found out it had occurred.

    The Officer in question obviously is a problem and a sore on OPD, and might even deserve to go on trial (I don’t know what IAD or the DA concluded) but that doesn’t mean every person of color should hate every OPD Officer. Those type of generalizations are what lead to the riots in DT after Oscar Grant.

    As far as your linkage to the NSA, ok I get you. Procedures for Investigation and Complaints not followed would lead one to question it’s implementation…It would still b good to know the facts to understand what happened & has happened since…

  32. CitizenX

    The allegations surrounding Ed Poulson and the death of Jerry Amaro surfaced at the time then Capt. Poulson, who headed IAD, was going after Oakland Police officers who had falsified affidavits for search warrants. This, peeps, is what is known as retaliation. A number of posters on this blog have an odd love/hate relationship with Oakland cops. Everyone wants more of them around, but seem willing to toss one of them under the bus the moment John Burris gets together with a deceased junkie’s family and makes accusations.

    I wasn’t there, when Oakland Police arrested Jerry Amaro, nor would I assume, were any of you. I do know that Poulson is one of the most solid cops on the force, which may well be the reason that Chief Word showed leniency years ago.

  33. Mike Spencer

    No profession protects its own like cops. Until there is more transparency in the disciplinary process and OPD being more out-front on such matters, suspicion will remain very high. Only those dubbed “expendable” get fired. 95% it’s the standard paid time off, “demotion” and life goes along. (Did you know that in Florida, anyone can walk off the street and request to see an officer’s personnel file???? It’s true.)

    Changing gears, ha-ha,, OPD and most City departments don’t have the manpower to deal with auto theft. I think we have the Alameda County Auto Theft Task Force, which is obviously up against a huge problem.

    Auto theft and auto burglary are rampant throughout Oakland, but as far as I know we have no proactive measures to combat. (My neighbor has had two muscle cars–each with alarm system–stolen in front of his house the last two months.) Auto theft and auto burglary are quality of life crimes that make you want to chop people’s hands off if you ever catch them stealing.

    Why are we constantly in upheaval inventing and re-inventing how we police Oakland?

  34. Ken O

    Mike, I read/heard that Oakland formerly had several courts handling these auto theft and all manner of other cases.

    Now Oakland has only ONE court trying cases, and I believe even that has been combined with Alameda County courts, which means the system is super saturated.

    Len R may have more detail, or check old OPD “community newsletters” by OPD Capt Kozicki from the last two years.

    I also have heard that our old DA Tom Orloff did not persecute auto theft as more than a misdemeanor, when in San Mateo or San Jose a DA would prosecute it as a felony.

    But I may have faulty recall.

  35. Ken O

    Len, I support an investigation of that OPD guy whose actions led to the person’s death.

    Separately, from OPD perspective it might just be convenient, the dealer lived/died by drugs/sword.

    Legalizing MJ may help since it’ll be sold in nice little boxes next to cigarettes and no more silly imprisonment for basic MJ use. That’s a waste of resources.

  36. annoyed

    CitizenX: Oh, please. I don’t speak for others on this site but I enjoy good relationships with individuals in OPD and work closely with some. That said, the people thrown under the bus were the cops who were nailed for bad warrants. When that many rookie cops are having a problem with obtaining solid warrants, that is an obvious management/training problem. Period. It was apparent to anyone who has taken management 101 and should have been obvious to anyone inside OPD, which you obviously are. I don’t support incompetence by top brass. It’s good to see some changes at the DC level and one can only hope that we are entering into a more enlightened age with OPD.

  37. Ralph

    Mike, are the police constantly inventing and re-inventing how they police Oakland or is john q public telling opd how he wants them to do their job?

  38. We Fight Blight

    Batt’s perspective is truly refreshing. Acknowledge the true scope and seriousness of the problem and adequately defining the problem before developing a strategy to address the problem, rather than ignore or downplay the problem. Part of this effort also needs to explore who commits crime in Oakland, why they commit crime, where they commit crime and when they commit crime.

    We Fight Blight has long held that there is a simple, though expensive, solution to our crime problem. Hire more police. With more police patrolling Oakland this creates a deterrent to criminals. More police means more criminals are caught and more criminals are sent to jail or prison, thereby taking them off our streets and preventing them from victimizing other residents.

    Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in Freakonomics explore why crime in most US Cities declined significantly in the 1990′s. Their conclusion was the legalization of abortion resulted in far fewer unwanted pregnancies. Unwanted children tend to commit more crimes. With legalized abortion, fewer unwanted children grew up to become criminals. Not sure why Oakland was bypassed.

    The authors also looked at other factors commonly cited to explain crime reduction including: (1) innovative policing strategies; (2) increased reliance on prisons; (3) changes in crack markets; (4) aging of the population; (5) tougher gun control; (6) strong economy; (7) increased number of police; and (8) all other explanations. Apparently, three factors have been shown to have contributed to the drop in crime in the 1990′s–increased reliance on prisons (tougher prison sentences), increased number of police officers, and legalized abortion with legalized abortion being the most significant.

    The only factor directly controlled by the City of Oakland is the ability to hire more police. While we would not necessarily argue against innovative policing strategies that allow the Oakland Police to work more effeciently and have better relations with the community, Levitt and Dubner argue there is very little evidence that such measure have a distinct benefit towards crime reduction. The most often cited case, New York City under Bratton, who focused on the small things such as fare jumpers, etc., was apparently also coupled with one of the largest and most unprecedented hiring of NYPD officers. Other cities that did not employ innovative policing strategies but hired more police also experienced significant drops in crime in the 1990′s.

    As simple as it sounds–hire more police and put more criminals in jail. This creates a significant deterrent for those thinking about committing a crime in Oakland and locks up those that are willing to commit crimes. On the other hand, it will also make people feel safer in general, thereby increasing the likelihood that people will be attracted to Oakland to live, recreate and shop.

    One problem with this solution is the City Council and the City Bureaucracy’s unwillingness to focus only on core government services with police being the number one priority. The other problem is the electorate’s willingness to approve any feel good ballot initiative to the detriment of managing our City budget and holding us hostage. The City continues trying to be all things to all people–so diluted that nothing significant can be accomplished. Let’s get back to core local government services.

    Good luck Batts.

  39. Max Allstadt


    Even if we were to get all of the council to confer and agree to strip all of their non-essential pet programs out of the budget completely, and even if we completely revoked measure OO, there wouldn’t be enough money in the 2011 budget to hire more cops.

    In fact, it looks like there might not be enough to keep the ones we’ve got. So while I agree with your solution in principle, I am pretty sure it can’t be done in reality.

  40. We Fight Blight


    I appreciate the difficult financial problems the City is in and the difficulty of hiring more police officers. Nevertheless, if Levitt and Dubner are right then all of this effort for an OPD strategic plan may be useless unless it is coupled with a plan to hire more police. Oakland will continue to spin its wheels and Bratt’s lofty goals for crime reduction may wither away. At some point there has to be the political leadership and will to focus our efforts on hiring more police–even if this comes at the expense of other services some see as core.

    Public safety is the most fundamental purpose of local government. One has to wonder just how much Oakland loses in economic growth and unrealized tax revenues–income that could be used to revitalize the physical and human infrastructure of our City– because of the real and perceived problems of crime. Crime is the single largest problem of the City and its reach is far and wide–well beyond our borders.

    Get a real handle on the crime problem and this City will really blossom. The only way to get a handle on crime is to create a severe disincentive on the micro-level for criminals to commit crime. One of the tried and true ways to create a disincentive is to make sure the punishment is severe enough and the likelihood of getting caught high enough. This means more police and a court system that doesn’t promote a catch and release program.

    Unfortunately, there is so little faith in our elected officials and the city bureaucracy that few trust them with more of our tax dollars. I certainly don’t. Until they are able to show more prudent fiscal management, it will be difficult to secure additional tax dollars for more police. The only way to show more prudent fiscal management is to define limited core services and cut everything else. Sounds draconian to most tax and spend liberals. But that may be just the medicine this City needs.

  41. Matt

    More police might keep the crime tamped down but then again an overbearing police force will likely end up instigate a riot.

    If we’re stuck with the number of police we have and the situation really is that if a guy is jerking off on your back porch and when you call the cops the operator says, “Well you aren’t in emanate danger so we can’t send anyone right now.” Well, then the OPD needs to engage the community and help us safely police our own neighborhoods.

    Also, if we can have a Megan’s Law, why can’t we have a Max Parolee per Square Mile Law, too?

  42. Matt

    WFB, you have access to the city budget. So figure out how many new cops we need, how much it will cost and then what programs you are going to reallocate the funds from. Put it up the flag pole and see if anyone salutes.

  43. We Fight Blight


    I get the sense that you are in Dellum’s camp. At one point Dellum’s declared that the City of Oakland did not want a police state. He then moved under tremendous political and public pressure to fully staff the OPD. Doesn’t that say something about what the City wants? So we should live in fear of people rioting in the streets if we actually enforce the existing laws? Sounds quite logical. Don’t enforce the laws and let people live in fear of getting mugged, robbed or killed so that we can avoid rioting from the very people who want fewer police and less law enforcement…Okay.

    Yes, community policing may help at some level. But if you have all of these crime prevention councils and residents involved in community policing calling the police and nobody answers the phone, then what? You still need more police to respond, investigate and deter. Community policing and engaging residents is important, but you still need more police to respond to the increased demand created by a more vigilant and responsive citizenry. Or do we just let them all call 911 only to get a busy signal or no answer or a very belated police response as we have had far too many times?

    Matt, your point about the budget and identifying specific cuts and funding is totally valid. You cannot buy something for which you do not have the money. As a set of broad principals we would focus priorities on the following: (1) public safety including police and fire; (2) infrastructure; (3) public works and CEDA; (4) revenue generating enterprises; and (5) debt payments.

  44. We Fight Blight

    Thanks David. Interesting article re: Levitt and the arbortion theory. In all fairness though you should have noted not just what Mr. Foote says but Levitt’s response as well.

    Mr. Levitt counters that Mr. Foote is looking only at a narrow subset of his overall work on abortion and crime, so his results are of limited value, and not grounds for dismissing the whole theory. He acknowledges the programming error, but says taken by itself, that error doesn’t put much of a dent in his work. (Mr. Foote’s result depends on changing that formula and on the adjustment for per-capita arrests.) Moreover, Mr. Levitt says the abortion theory has held up when examined in other countries, like Canada and Australia, and when applied to other subjects, like drug use.

    “Does this change my mind on the issue? Absolutely not,” Mr. Levitt says.

    This isn’t the first time Mr. Levitt’s abortion research has come under attack. Other academics have tried to poke holes in it, and critics across the political spectrum found the research offensive. Conservatives were appalled that it found such positive consequences from a practice many of them found immoral. Liberals felt it smacked of eugenics.

    Nevertheless, my point still remains the same. If we want to address crime the best and only way directly controlled by the City is to hire more police and create a disincentive to commit crimes. Having alternatives such as jobs may be helpful but you still need to create and maintain strong disincentives.

  45. David

    I agree that the only way that Oakland can work directly to fight crime is to hire more cops (Oakland, like most Western cities is really understaffed in the police dept compared to everywhere east of the Rockies–for example, IIRC, there are 2200 cops in Milwaukee, an industrial city with roughly similar demographics, and about 50% more people–for Oakland to get up to that level, it’d have to almost double the number of cops).

    I was merely pointing out one criticism of the Freakonomics work. I believe the research that correlates single parent (single mother)-raised boys to crime is much more plausible, but otherwise I’m neutral to the abortion/crime linkage. Unfortunately, society can’t force people to actually get married before having kids.

  46. Brad


    I agree with one of your points, but disagree with another. A lot of research is out there showing a strong correlation between reduced crime and the likelihood of getting caught. This research has measured both an individual’s motivation/likelihood to commit/risk assessment when considering committing a transgression, as well as statistical analysis of communities.

    However, the same cannot be said for the harshness of punishment. I haven’t heard of a strong consensus that harsh punishment works to deter crime, in fact, the research I’ve heard about has mostly been the opposite, that the harshness of punishment has little or no effect on people’s inclination to commit crime on an individual level and/or crime rates in a community.

    That said, because I agree with your first point, I support an increase in the number of police officers, AS WELL AS smarter/better policing. Both are necessary to increase the likelihood of criminals getting caught.

  47. livegreen

    Further to my comments above about Tucker’s shift policies that got Kozicki promoted (& treatment of Officers that lowered morale) , this was posted by Sanjiv Honda on listserves today:

    FYI from Sanjiv Handa, East Bay News Service:

    The Oakland Police Department will end most 3-day, 12-hour shifts for
    officers, effective March 20. The move is likely to garner almost universal
    praise for Chief Anthony Batts, and bring to an end one of the most controversial
    policies implemented by former Chief Wayne Tucker.

    March 20 is also the effective date of new assignments for police officers.
    OPD sworn staffing is down to 774 — which is 29 officers below authorized
    strength of 803.

    As part of the re-assignments, some Problem Solving Officers will likely
    transfer to other positions.

  48. Ken O

    David I agree OPD needs 1.5x as many cops as it has now.

    WOOHOO Go Chief Batts!!

    12 hour shifts are downright DANGEROUS!!!

    Sweet Jesus.

    Now our cops will get more SLEEP, more time to DETOX and DECOMPRESS at home or whatnot, and be well rested and ALERT to actually do their jobs well!!

    No thank you previous Chief Tucker AND whomever put you in that position (Jerry Brown? Don Perata?), may you both live under a highway overpass.

    Brad — in Inca South America, people who didn’t work hard enough (2/3 of their work was taxed for the State) they were stoned or executed by hanging. And by golly it worked. China has similar — execution for high level corruption.

  49. livegreen

    I agree with WFB about most of his/her points. With the Budget problems, however, if we’re going to be able to hire more OPD Officers it will only be done if they & other City workers take a pay-cut, and make their salaries & benefits more comparable to what they earn in NYC & other cities. (Not comparable, just more comparable).

    In exchange the City will be able to hire more of them, and this will make the law abiding (& non-law abiding) citizens AND Officers safer. Since the Unions are opposing this, the City should consider Newsom’s strategy of fire & rehire.

    Regarding budget priorities “(4) revenue generating enterprises”, when I was downtown paying my Business Taxes the other day a City Worker mentioned the cuts to their department. So the City (based on staff recommendations) is cutting it’s revenue generating.

    This is short sighted.

  50. Dave C.

    There’s also evidence that swift and predictable punishment is much more effective in deterring crime than severe punishments which are haphazardly applied and often delayed. The HOPE program in Hawaii has shown dramatic results in its first 5 years, reducing recidivism while also reducing the use of long, extremely expensive prison sentences which mostly fail to rehabilitate anyone. This NY Times Magazine article from January has more info.

  51. Mike d'Ocla

    The recent book on the efficacy of swift and certain modest punishment (vs haphazard and excessive punishment) in deterring crime is Mark Kleiman’s “When Brute Force Fails.”

    But punishment is not where the Oakland Police Department is particularly relevant. Effective punishment schemes require well-written laws, efficient prosecution and a savvy judiciary. Most of which we don’t have.

  52. Brad

    @Dave C. & Mike,

    Thanks for pointing to the sources that support my point of disagreement with WFB & KenO (no offense, Ken, I agree with you sometimes, just not this time).

    I also just want to note that “swift and certain modest punishment,” as Mike so well phrased it, is what the north oakland gang injunction is all about.

  53. livegreen

    Yeah Brad, But you must remember the words of Maya Dillard Smith & the ACLU on Forum: the Gang Injunction is racist & against all African American youth in Oakland. (Even though it’s very narrowly phrased, & covers only a list of very specific adults, at least as reported by Russo).

    The second somebody says a plan is racist, even when it is not, & even when the people backing it are minorities themselves, most liberal politicians immediately back off and don’t even attempt to consider it.

    & even though the citizens most victimized by crime are hard-working African American and Latino families. Which liberal Oakland politicians are defending them?

  54. Born in Oakland

    The same ones who love complicated social justice programs which test the brainpower of the innocent citizen and clog the machinery of government.

  55. Brad

    Nearly a homicide a day for the past week. This is appalling. Thursday through Saturday, four shooting deaths and one critically injured (http://www.insidebayarea.com/oakland/ci_14630075). Tuesday afternoon, a mother kills her toddler daughter (http://www.insidebayarea.com/oakland/ci_14646616). Tuesday night, another shooting death (http://www.insidebayarea.com/oakland/ci_14644480). And we wring our hands and wonder why Oakland gets a bad rap. I haven’t heard a goddamn thing from any of the mayoral contenders or would be candidates about what they’re going to do about this violence. Not that I was impressed with any of them to begin with. A disengaged sponge, a rabid ideologue, and a crook. I’m hopeful now with all the hype about RK — but what’s her plan?