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Reduce and Prevent Crime
I wholeheartedly support Police Chief Anthony Batts and his Strategic Plan. I believe Oakland can and must meet Chief Batts’ stated goal: to be one of the safest large cities in California.
Making our city safe depends on four key components: smart and sufficient police staffing, violence prevention programs, physical environments that promote safety and deter crime and organized communities. As your city councilmember, I will support each of these essential public safety elements.
First, we must have a sufficient number of sworn police officers to end the toxic influence of drugs, gangs and guns, to establish a reasonable police presence, and to meet Chief Batts’ commitment that police will be there when we need them. We must have enough officers to respond to and investigate crime and restore community policing.
Oakland must take steps to prevent the layoff of further police officers. We must also implement fiscal policies and budget reforms that will allow us, as soon as possible, to increase the level of officers to a number appropriate for our city. To make sure our use of officers is smart and efficient, we should follow the lead of other large cities in using civilian employees to investigate property crimes, assist in community liaison efforts and take community complaints.
Second, our city’s innovative violence prevention programs have been a proven success. These programs, which provide alternatives to crime, cost the taxpayers far less than the community, social and governmental costs of crime. Eliminating our programs makes neither economic nor social sense. We must find ways to continue funding for the programs that have had a direct correlation with the crime reduction Oakland has experienced in recent years.
I know firsthand how effective violence prevention programs can be, because I served as Mayor Brown’s representative on the steering committee for one of those programs, Project Choice. This public safety program successfully integrates young parolees back into the city with the tools they need to become successful, contributing members of the community. Even after two years following their release from prison, Project Choice parolees had an 83% lower recidivism rate than the general parolee population.
We know that a majority of crime is committed by a small number of offenders. We need to focus our enforcement and prevention efforts on this group. Under Chief Batts’ leadership, Oakland’s Police Department and Department of Human Services, together with community organizations, have a focused strategy that combines street outreach to young people in our toughest neighborhoods with “call-ins,” intervening directly in the lives of the small number of people most likely to commit crimes.
Outreach and call-in workers connect them with resources and opportunities while reinforcing the serious consequences of crime. I support these programs and believe they must be expanded. I agree with Chief Batts that long-term crime reduction requires an environment that provides real economic opportunities for all the residents of Oakland. I will support economic policies that result in business growth and real, living-wage jobs that we know are the best alternatives to criminal activities.
Third, we must employ the techniques of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CEPTD) to make improvements to our neighborhoods that deter criminal activity and foster a sense of safety and community care. I have witnessed many instances where better lighting or removal of blight has resulted in a reduction of criminal incidents and an improved sense of community pride and security.
Finally, we must continue to organize and support Neighborhood Watch and Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils so that neighbors look out for each other and partner with the City in preventing crime and apprehending criminals.