Despite spending 45% of Oakland's general fund dollars on the police department, crime has not improved in decades. We know that we will never be able to “arrest” our way out of the problem. As Albert Einstein put it, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
We need real change that addresses the root causes of crime – poverty, unemployment, and general hopelessness.
In Oakland, we will never create a safe society without a program for social and economic justice. One great tool to fight crime: education.
We will save tax dollars in the long run by investing in education today. We need to invest in skills training programs, counseling, and support directed towards our young people before they become involved in harmful activities.
- We need to invest in early childhood education programs, which have proven to be effective, long-term solutions for achieving educational success and crime reduction.
- Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help.
- Oakland must provide substantive job training and computer programming literacy so that the next generation sees a productive path forward.
Dan Siegel’s plan to make Oakland safer applies a comprehensive approach that includes both short-term fixes and longer-term solutions. Here is how we make it happen.
We need more police officers on our streets, and fewer officers doing administrative work at the station. Siegel will double the number of officers on the street without increasing the authorized size of the police department (about 700). Siegel will have investigators assigned to each precinct and give them a mandate to solve serious crimes. He will improve our case closure rate, which stands at just 30% for murder cases, and much lower for other serious crimes.
We also need a mayor who will not use selective statistics to pretend that crime is down. As everyone in Oakland knows, we live with a public safety crisis every day – burglaries were up 43 percent, while robberies rose by 24 percent.
We must civilianize paperwork-laden positions, and add real community policing that starts to build trust in our diverse communities by working with residents to improve community safety. Studies show that short-term crime reduction happens by leveraging additional City resources:
- Clean up our neighborhoods: A 2005 Harvard study of 35 crime hotspots found that cleaning up the physical environment – stopping illegal dumping and trash accumulation – resulted in more crime reduction than from arrests, and decreased police calls by 20%. We also need to ensure adequate street lighting in all neighborhoods.
Oakland's police department must protect our lives, our property, and our constitutional rights. Dan Siegel will appoint a Chief who will adopt a zero tolerance approach to the abuse of people's rights.
Sir Robert Peel, founder of the London Police Department in the 1800s, said that police will be effective only when they treat everyone equally. Dan Siegel rejects strategies like random stop and frisk, gang injunctions or youth curfews that rely on racial profiling.
After 12 years and tens of millions of dollars, it is time to satisfy the terms of the federal Negotiated Settlement Agreement. The City agreed to make these reforms and its failure to do so is a damning indict of Oakland's elected and appointed leadership. By insuring that officers respect people's rights Oakland will save millions of dollars every year. The mishandling of the Occupy Oakland protests alone cost the City over $7.0 million.
Read our policy paper on public safety and the Oakland Police Department.