OP-ED: Public Safety for Oakland – Prevention and Policing, Response and Enforcement

By Loren Taylor

The same playgrounds I grew up on in Oakland aren’t safe for my kids today. The City deserves better, and that starts with a comprehensive, multi-pronged and holistic approach to public safety.

As the only black man on the Oakland City Council, I know firsthand that public safety is an intersectional issue. It requires focusing on the history of Oakland, racism in America, the flaws in our criminal justice system, the lack of investment in new technology, and yes, properly staffing our law enforcement teams with the law and violence prevention from well-trained, community-minded men. and women.

For too long in Oakland, saying we should hire police has been a “third rail” issue that ambitious politicians avoid. This kind of politics has gotten us nowhere, and the people of Oakland are rightly fed up.

Oakland is in the midst of a public safety crisis. In 2021, 134 people were killed in our city and we are on track to meet or exceed that number this year. Families in my city council district represent an inordinate percentage of those affected by these tragic murders. They’re mourning loved ones and trying to pick up the pieces, and in the meantime our police officers just can’t keep up.

A recent investigative report showed that in the 11 months of last year, there were 115 cases in which Oakland police were so overwhelmed with 911 calls that they had to give the priority on the fly, dispatching officers only to emergencies that appeared to present imminent danger.

It is absolutely crucial that as we try to address the root causes of crime and homicides in our city, we address the resource gaps and staffing shortages that add to the chaos. We fail if our first responders have to decide who lives and who dies.

I reject the idea that it is either about the police and law enforcement or about violence prevention and addressing root causes. I have long been of the opinion that it should be “both and” and not “either-or”.

I also categorically reject the idea that we must choose between racial justice and public safety, or that it is not “progressive” to enforce our laws. There’s nothing progressive about doing nothing when Oaklanders are dying of gun violence, their cars are broken into, or they feel unsafe on our streets every day.

After the murder of George Floyd, I designed and co-led the Oakland Public Safety Reinvention Task Force to develop innovative and equitable solutions to our public safety challenges, many of which have been adopted in the current city budget. But that was just the beginning.

In my campaign for mayor, I proposed a comprehensive public safety plan that will solve the crisis we find ourselves in. I am not afraid to introduce difficult, potentially controversial, systemic reforms and investments to keep Oakland safe. If elected mayor in November, that will be my top priority.

Some of my proposed reforms will require City Council action, but in my first month in office, I will take executive action wherever possible to make Oakland safer. Here are a few :

  • While waiting for new officers to come out of police academies, I will immediately increase our sworn officer capacity through partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, ensuring that officers with contact roles with the community (e.g., traffic law enforcement) meet OPD commitments to constitutional policing.
  • I will deploy tools that increase surveillance surveillance and investigative capacity, including high-definition cameras, automated license plate readers, drone technology and a criminal investigation database, in collaboration with our Privacy Advisory Board, but without allowing them to be a bottleneck on the path to improved security.
  • For the safety of all of our children, I will establish the long-awaited formal agreement between our schools, the police and the Department of Violence Prevention for better coordination of violence prevention, crime deterrence and emergency response in and around schools.

There is more. I invite you to read my plan for dealing with our public safety crisis and urge you to think carefully about who is best placed to lead the City. It is high time we kept the promise of our beloved city. With the right leadership, Oakland can be a city of dreams come true.

District 6 Councilman Loren Taylor is a proud third-generation Oakland son, husband, father, engineer, and now an Oakland mayoral candidate. Loren lives in East Oakland with his wife, Dr. Erica Taylor, and their two children. To learn more, visit lorenforoakland.com.

The post OP-ED: Public Safety for Oakland – Prevention and Policing, Response and Enforcement first appeared on Post News Group. This article originally appeared in Post News Group.

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