What About Defunding The Police?
As detailed above, we are answering the call to shift resources from the reactive and punitive side of law enforcement and invest more into the proactive, preventive solutions. Several have said, however, that the $14.3 million (3%) we reduced from OPD’s budget is not enough. I AGREE. We have to do more and that is why we are initiating a taskforce which will help us come up with a plan for doing significantly more in next year’s budget.
- Yes, Our System Is Broken And We Need To Transform It. When we have a significant amount of our budget directed toward law enforcement, which could otherwise be directed toward Youth Services, Homelessness, and affordable housing, it is time to significantly change how we spend our money. I agree with the calls to radically transform our system and I am committed to doing so.
- Change Can’t Happen Overnight Unless We Are Willing To Live Through An Uncertain Transition Period. Calls for an immediate $150M reduction to OPDs budget (or even a $25M reduction) without a plan for how we achieve those reductions will place significant burden on Oaklanders who will otherwise need critical public safety services while we are “figuring it out.” Yes, I believe that we will be able to identify opportunities to (a) civilianize additional police duties, (b) rely more heavily on community partners, and (c) eliminate waste and increase overall efficiencies within OPD. But that plan has not been developed yet. Oakland is currently facing a high average backlog of service calls and slow response times that will only worsen if we don’t have alternatives in place to respond to these calls. There must be broad commitment from the community to living through this period of uncertainty.
- Most District 6 Residents I Have Heard From Agree with the need for Change, But Aren’t Prepared To Live Through That Uncertainty. Many whom I have heard from are similarly frustrated by the amount of money we spend on OPD and the slow response times, but are also anxious about what a reduction in force will mean for their personal safety and that of their neighborhood. Residents in the Flatlands and the Hills are calling for increased help from the city to make their neighborhoods safer.
- A 93 year-old Black resident in the Havenscourt neighborhood called me to express fear of what would happen if we have less officers to respond to calls.
- A young African American woman, fortunate to participate in the city’s first-time homebuyer program is asking for help to keep her safe given that a frequent visitor to her neighborhood has made repeated threats against her life and that of other neighbors.
- And similarly another long-time African American gentleman is asking for help addressing the frequent shootings that happen on his street.
- These residents are asking for a plan before we move forward with a significant defunding of OPD.
- Radical Change Can And Will Happen Quickly Here In Oakland… And We Are Starting A 9-Month Journey To Get There. We will quickly establish a City Council/Community-led Taskforce to plan and guide implementation of a transformational vision of Public Safety in Oakland. The vision must be bold (e.g., a 50% reduction in OPD’s General Fund allocation), and must also include tangible outcomes (e.g., a 50% reduction in crime, and a 50% reduction in incarcerated Oaklanders). And this is what I propose as a starting point for the Taskforce. The taskforce should be kicked off by September, and with extensive community involvement have a draft plan by January and a final plan by the end of March to inform next year’s budget process.
I am ready to roll up my sleeves with community to make the transformational changes we need in a responsible way so that we aren’t compromising resident safety in the meantime.
I would love to know your thoughts and perspectives on what I have shared above regarding the path toward shifting resources from law enforcement to community investment. If you are interested in providing thoughts/ input to this process, please let me know and we will add you to the list we are compiling.