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In order to provide the basic building blocks for a thriving community, we must provide for public safety in Oakland. The lack of public safety contributes to a wide range of problems, both personal and financial. This means pursuing effective strategies to solve, prevent, and reduce crimes.
One of the most important policing methods for preventing crime is by providing visible, walking “beat” officers who are assigned to cover a particular area. (Oakland has historically called it “community policing” and now OPD uses the phrase “problem-solving officers” for this type of assignment). When officers are visible, it tends to deter crime and sends a message that Oakland is not a place to commit crime. When officers are consistently assigned to cover the same area, they get to know it better, and the community gets to know them. This reduces tension and mistrust, and improves the ability of police to gather information to solve and prevent crimes. In 2004, over 69% of Oakland voters approved Measure Y, which mandated a program to provide an assigned officer for every police ‘beat’ in Oakland.
- We must keep the promise to the voters, providing an assigned officer to every “beat” in Oakland.
- Provide for the other personnel needed to ensure that we have the capacity to answer 9-1-1 calls, gather evidence and solve crimes. (E.g. fingerprinting, evidence technicians, 9-1-1 dispatchers).
- Look for creative and successful solutions. For example, one of our challenges is the fact that a majority of crimes are committed by ex-offenders, who are often released from prison with no help to seek a changed life. There are re-entry groups in Oakland, such as the Men of Valor program, which have a great track record helped ex-offenders turn their lives around, stop committing crime, and obtain jobs — and we should be supporting and expanding this type of program.
- Expand the use of Safety Ambassadors, who are uniformed safety professionals (who are not sworn police officers). Thanks to the Business Improvement Districts, this program has recently been launched in the Uptown and Downtown of Oakland, providing personnel who can both provide directions and information, and improve public safety. This program should be strengthened, including extended hours, and in additional locations.
- Once fully implemented, the City of Atlanta reported that their public safety and information patrol has reduced crime in the area by 60%.
- Provide the Chief of Police with the support needed to deploy personnel in the best way possible to enhance public safety.
- Support “Street Outreach Workers” who directly intervene to prevent the cycle of violence, and provide positive role models.
- Provide Blight reporting more easily, and online, improve blight clean-up and removal and enforcement.
- Improve “false alarm” program to reduce frequency of false alarms (and therefore, make sure we are not wasting police resources on false alarms so they can focus on real crime)