23
Feb
09

Neighborhood Policing Lives On

Community-based policing in Oakland is, at best, a work-in-progress.  Among the 57 beats scattered through the city, there are great differences in whether neighbors get involved in crime prevention councils.  We understand that beat officers are not spending 100% of their time locally, either.

In Montclair, we have two active councils that communicate priorities to Beat 13Y and 13Z officers.  We let them know where to patrol and share other concerns on a regular basis, and we often complain about slow response times when calling for help.  Our crimes are mostly about burglaries and stolen cars, rather than murders.

Like all Oaklanders, we still wonder when community policing will hit its stride.  This combination of neighbors and local cops, working together, shows real promise but hasn’t been fully realized yet.

Tagami Interviews Tucker

Tucker Talked The Talk

Wayne Tucker, Oakland’s soon-to-be former police chief, has been chanting “the mantra” of geographic and local policing efforts for several years.  In this 2007 interview with Phil Tagami (part one, part two), he focused on filling 22 of the 57 problem-solving officer (PSOs) positions and reaching 803 officer positions overall.  Tucker also believed the force should add another 300 officers.

Chief Tucker will make his swan-song this Wednesday, at the Neighborhood Watch Steering Committee meeting.  Montclair’s Nick Vigilante said the Chief plans to “address the major achievements at OPD under his command, as well as what still needs to be done and what role the residents of Oakland can play in it.”

  • You’re invited to this presentation on Wednesday, from 6:30 – 8:30pm.  It takes place at City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, in Hearing Room 4 (map), and please RSVP to Felicia Verdin at fverdin-at-oaklandnet.com or 510-238-3128.

With Tucker’s retirement as well as the severe budget gap, we wonder about changing priorities within Oakland Police department.  Will some of the community efforts fall by the wayside?  Or will it be up to citizens to keep things going?

Community Policing Might Suffer

Just today, City Attorney John Russo jumped into the fray regarding policing priorities:  “We must confront the painful truth that too many good Oakland residents live as if under siege.  We need more officers, but we don’t need them doing desk jobs that a civilian could do. We need more officers investigating and solving violent crimes.  We must have a commitment to to effective crime fighting and continued, serious reform of the Oakland Police Department.”

The Alameda County Court recently issued a tentative ruling in Marleen L. Sacks v. City of Oakland.  Judge Frank Roesch ruled that Measure Y funds were used improperly by the City.  In particular, he found that funds had been used for general police training and not specifically for community-policing functions.  Appeals have been filed by the City Attorney’s office at this point.  [Feb. 24th:  The City Attorney's office expects to recommend an appeal filing, if the ruling is affirmed.]

Meanwhile, the budget continues to crash and burn, and the actual gap isn’t known yet.  The City Council’s Finance and Management Committee, headed by our City Rep Jean Quan, is looking at additional taxes to solve problems and is gamely trying to repeal the Measure OO which passed last year.  At some point, there have to be tougher calls which reduce headcount and salary levels – just like the private sector.

Power To the People, UNCO

Today the crime prevention councils function solely at the beat level, and citizens share safety concerns with their beat officers.  Perhaps by unifying and giving a larger voice to councils’ concerns, there could be more coordinated responses from their assigned PSOs or other cops on duty.

With this goal in mind, the first-ever United Neighborhood Councils of Oakland (UNCO) Congress is taking place tomorrow night.  The original drafters, including Montclarion Jim Dexter, believe this group will enable more direct communications to Oakland Police brass and other city officials.

  • Everyone’s welcome to participate in this first Congress on Tuesday, beginning 7:00 pm. It takes place at Patten University Activity Center, 2433 Coolidge Avenue (map), and no RSVP is required here.

By attending, you have opportunities to run for UNCO leadership roles as an Executive Committee officer or as a Public Safety Area (PSA) representative.  The meeting will also break into the six PSAs, so neighbors can begin identifying local issues as well.

Regardless of Oakland’s budgeting travails or police reforms, it’s heartening to see that citizen volunteers are trying to amplify their contributions anyway.  This kind of volunteerism should help keep community policing alive – even in the most troubled times.

Feb. 28th Update: It’s the last day for OPD Chief Wayne Tucker, with coverage by the Tribune, Chronicle, and NBC News.  Earlier this week, KTVU and Tribune reported about the Neighborhood Watch meeting.  Tucker said the city was “woefully inadequate in terms of responding to property crimes.  We just don’t have staff to do those kinds of things.”

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2 Responses to “Neighborhood Policing Lives On”


  1. February 24, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Just to clarify, the ruling in Sacks v. City of Oakland is tentative at this point. The judge has 90 days from the hearing to issue a final ruling. The City has indicated that if the tentative ruling is affirmed, they would recommend to the City Council that the ruling be appealed.

  2. 2 Barry K
    February 28, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Regarding: “The City Council’s Finance and Management Committee, headed by our City Rep Jean Quan, is looking at additional taxes to solve problems and is gamely trying to repeal the Measure OO which passed last year.”

    Here is the schedule for the Finance Management Committee Meeting last week:
    Concurrent Meeting of the Oakland Redevelopment Agency Joint Powers Financing Authority And Finance And Management Committee – Feb 24 2009

    TAXES, TAXES, TAXES….

    *Real Property Transfer Tax – Ballot Measure, From the Finance Management Agency
    *City’s Hotel Tax (Transient Occupancy Tax) – Tax, Ballot Measure, From Jean Quan
    *2009 Lighting, Parks, Trees, Heath and Safety Emergency – Parcel Tax, From Jean Quan
    **Repeal Charter Section 1300 On Kids First – Ballot Measure, From Jean Quan and Pat Kernighan

    You write that Jean is trying to repeal Measure OO (KidsFirst 2). But, she also wants to:
    “Readopt Charter Section 1300 On Oakland Fund For Children And Youth Adopted By The Voters On November 7, 1996″

    May 29, 2008, Office of the City Auditor
    City Auditor Ruby Finds City Exceeded Required Funding for Children and Youth Services

    While the City funded children and youth services at the required level, the City lacks a system for monitoring funding levels, reported Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby. “City staff administering Measure K funds told auditors they were uncertain if Measure K’s appropriation requirements were being met because systems for monitoring the funding were absent,” Ruby said.

    The audit found the City exceeded required funding by $1.2 million and $4.5 million in fiscal years 2006 and 2007, respectively and is expected to exceed required funding by more than $5.1 million in 2008.

    Please follow the link below to see the entire press release, or, the report.
    http://www.oaklandauditor.com/press/pr_measurek.pdf

    http://www.oaklandauditor.com/reports/measurek.pdf

    Does anyone know what are Jean Quan’s qualifications to Chair the Finance Management Committee? Does this come from a political career of creating and/or supporting additional taxes and Measures?


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