Never A Dull Moment In Community Safety

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.

Montclair Safety Councils

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 groupsNo 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.

Officers Can Respond In The Hills

Last night, I stopped into our Thornhill 7-Eleven on the way home from work.  It was after 11pm or so, and I needed some pita chips and peanuts to make it through the night.

Every so often, I run into police officers around there or the gas station.  It’s been a while since I was complaining about ridiculous gas prices with some cops.  Late Tuesday, I entered the store while cops were picking up their sustenance too – and we discussed the hills scene.

Old 7-Eleven Promotion

These two officers patrol the hills at night, and cover a very large area.  Based on my chat with one policeman, I can say that he seemed really caring and clued into what’s happening around Montclair.  We are concerned about getting things stolen, and he knows all about it – and noted that perps come from Contra Costa as much as Alameda county.

After listening to this officer, two pieces of advice seemed useful to pass along.  First, please call the police with anything you might see that’s suspicious.  Don’t decide it’s “not worth it” because you just never know.  Second, identify who you are and your location.  This makes it easier for police to respond or investigate things.

These police want to help.  While they are short-handed, they generally patrol the main arteries through Montclair.   If someone is snooping around or trying to steal something, the thinking goes that perps will eventually exit down canyon roads like Broadway, Thornhill, Shepherd, Ascot, etc.  (They also patrol based on recommendations from our local North Hills and Montclair neighborhood councils.)

When you have heard noises or spotted a stranger around, no one will accuse you of paranoia for calling the cops.  You may not get instant follow-up, but it still helps to call and fully identify yourself and location – as this improves the chances that your place or block will get checked out.  What’s the downside, really?