You thought the City of Oakland’s budget was done for the next fiscal year? There’s never a dull moment during the biggest and baddest recession we have ever known. And there’s never a dull moment when it comes to community safety, either.
In case you haven’t heard the news, the great hopes for Uncle Sam to “rehire” all the Oakland police that were getting cut to balance our city budget…didn’t pan out. The cops will need to tighten their belts and there will be fewer on the force. Our residents already participate in neighborhood councils to help police, and might have to redouble their efforts somehow.
Even with scarcity, it feels like some public safety resources provide a bigger bang for the buck. We think these priorities matter most to Montclarions:
- Let’s make sure enough police are patrolling key places – Today there are public safety officers assigned to the two Montclair beats. These officers are tuned into what’s happening here, in part based on priorities shared by residents. Yet resources are scarce, and patrols are mostly limited to major arteries.
- Let’s ensure a few beloved park rangers survive – We need patrols in places like Joaquin Miller or Shepherd Canyon during the sultry evenings and weekends. There are only two in place and regular cops can’t do it all. While Friends of [insert place] groups are useful, they still need help to protect the places from vandals, fires and even unruly dogs.
- Let’s continue to support citizen safety groups – No one argues with the importance of community policing and preparedness, yet the city’s neighborhood services program is on the chopping block. Where does that put residents and active groups like the Montclair Safety & Improvement Council and North Hills Neighborhood Council around here?
It’s a logic problem to us. If there can’t be sufficient police and rangers in the hills, then citizens need to be able to share priorities and hot spots so fewer cops can do their jobs better. The city has a few positions to ensure that community policing works and now wants to cut them out? You can’t have it both ways.
Update: As of month end, logic has prevailed. The City Council decided to keep the existing park rangers and neighborhood services program. Uncle Sam gave Oakland enough to cover 41 cops, and the cops have made pay and pension concessions as well.
One thought on “Never A Dull Moment In Community Safety”
This is a timely post, and underscores the need for all of us to become more active in our community. It’s easy to sit back and expect our local govt. to solve all our problems–after all, we pay taxes, right? Unfortunately that’s just not reality, especially in this economic climate.
There are a lot of things that we can do to help, from organizing our neighborhoods to working with the MSIC in identifying crime and traffic patrol priorities. Residents can participate in Citizens Radar patrols and work together on calming traffic on their streets. They/we can organize and take part in wildfire and crime watch patrols, especially on the weekends (we have done both along Skyline and neighboring streets, and these have been effective in reporting specific situations to OPD and in demonstrating that residents care and are vigilant about crime and safety in their neighborhoods).
If we really do care about addressing crime and traffic issues, improving our neighborhoods, being prepared for the inevitable disaster (fire, earthquake…), then we have to get involved! The MSIC welcomes (and desperately needs) community volunteers to help work with neighborhood groups and coordinate specific activities to augment city services. You/we can make a positive difference, and the more folks that step up and volunteer their time and energy, the easier it becomes. Just Do It ™!
Here are some MSIC links for more information on volunteering and being part of organized neighborhood activities:
http://www.montclairsic.org/about.htm – about the MSIC and how to get involved
http://www.montclairsic.org/areas.htm – MSIC areas of focus
http://www.montclairsic.org/crime.htm – reporting crime, crime prevention tips, etc.
http://www.montclairsic.org/mon.htm – organized neighborhood information
http://www.montclairsic.org/pdf/Organized_Neighborhoods_Leaders_Guide.pdf – why and how to organize your neighborhood
http://www.montclairsic.org/pdf/TrafficCalmingMeasures.pdf – traffic calming measures
MSIC Steering Committee, Organized Neighborhoods/Emergency Preparedness