Public Safety

21st Century Solutions for Oakland

Despite claims that our violent crime rates have gone down, every weekend mothers, wives, husbands, siblings and children mourn the loss of their loved ones to unnecessary violence. The truth is that Oakland has already surpassed the number of homicides that occurred by the same point in time last year; community members continue to be plagued by car break-ins and other property crimes; and wait times for police response remains egregiously long. Additionally, the recent Equity Indicators Report gave the City of Oakland failing grades across the board in the public safety arena. At the same time, funding for the police department has skyrocketed to consume nearly half of Oakland’s General Fund Budget, including over $30 million of unauthorized overtime expenses.

When numerous studies showcase the importance of Early Childhood Development Programs in creating safer communities and putting our children on a lifetime path to success, why does our City spend more money on overtime pay for police officers than it does on preparing our children for successful and thriving lives from day one?

As Mayor, we will invest City dollars in developing and implementing community-rooted public safety programs designed with the security of all of our residents in mind.

This means:

  • We will conduct a complete audit of the Oakland Police Department to determine how more than $471 million of the city’s dollars are being spent.

  • We will build a strong and consistent partnership with Alameda County to address the mental health needs of community members while working to revamp policies that deny them access to social safety nets like medicaid and SNAP benefits.

  • We will create a national model that employs mental health providers to be the first responders to community members who are in mental health crisis and direct resources from the City budget toward developing a mental health department available to our community 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • We will replicate successful existing models similar to what is used in The Laurel and build neighborhood community safety teams; providing training in restorative justice practices to solve inner-community disputes and other issues that do not require a badge and a gun.

  • Outsource non-law enforcement functions to community members and businesses, saving the City millions in police spending while simultaneously generating jobs.

  • Actively create social safety nets for community members returning home from incarceration. This will include: eradicating unnecessary requirements and red tape, job training, job placements and housing.

  • We will work to strengthen the independence of the current Oakland Police Commission so that it is a body that is truly accountable to community members. Under the current structure, we will allow the community to select the three mayoral appointments to the Commission.

  • We will center the voices of the most impacted communities to develop plans for an exit from street life and an entrance into the above ground economy through increasing living wage job opportunities, job training and hiring opportunities for our most vulnerable residents.

  • We will create and deploy trauma and mental-health teams to every neighborhood who suffers human loss through violence

If we could over-incarcerate and over-police our way to public safety, we would be the safest country in the world.  We already do that more than any other country in the world and more than several countries combined. It is time for 21st century solutions to public safety that are rooted in prevention and not just criminalization, rooted in community-based, equity focused methodologies that actually protect communities, civil liberties, Oakland values of justice, equity and humanity and free up law enforcement to deal with violent crimes rather than being the answer to every social ill our community has.