OAKLAND -- Yale University sociology professor Andrew Papachristos, an expert on social networks that fuel violent crime, will be the featured presenter at the next Safe Oakland Speaker Series on Wednesday.
Papachristos' research on gang violence in Chicago, Newark and other cities examines the interconnectedness of victims and perpetrators of violence. He is collecting data on Oakland as part of a four-year study on how social influences affect violence and whether law enforcement and community programs can cause change.
"The idea is to really treat violence like an epidemic -- to look at how it spreads," Papachristos said. "Most violence is decidedly ron-random."
By studying arrest records and crime reports, Papachristos said it can be determined who is among the most at risk for violence. That is critical information for all residents, especially as fear of random attacks heightened after the early April homicides of paramedic Quinn Boyer in Oakland's Melrose section and former Oakland Tribune freelance photographer Lionel Fluker in East Oakland.
"We have the impression that 'it can happen to me,' " Papachristos said of gun violence. "But it is concentrated among a population that is really hard to do something about."
As part of his research, Papachristos will study the effectiveness of the Ceasefire approach that police and area law enforcement agencies launched in October to gain cooperation from gang members or initiate crackdowns.
District 4 Councilmember Libby Schaaf founded the speaker series last year to engage the public on causes and solutions to crime. The second hour of each event is set aside for questions and comments.
"It's been divisive in the past," she said of the public debate over how to curb crime. "We haven't been looking at the best data and information available to us. If you put that in the hands of the people, it is powerful."
Schaaf said she hopes attendees will share what they learned with neighbors and friends.
While Schaaf said most residents who attended past events are from her district, which also includes Montclair and Redwood Heights, she is trying to reach other areas.
"It is a conversation the entire city needs to have," she said. "Solutions have to be ones that people from all neighborhoods agree with."
Upcoming talks will feature Oakland Street Outreach Manager Kevin Grant, Pastor Zac Carey and first responder Kyndra Simmons for a discussion about "street wisdom" May 22. Gerald Chaleff, Los Angeles Police Department's special assistant for constitutional policing, will speak June 19, and UCLA public policy professor Mark Kleiman will discuss crime and punishment policies June 26.
What: Safe Oakland Speaker Series
When: 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, June 19 and June 26
Where: Holy Names University's Valley Center for the Performing Arts, 3500 Mountain Blvd.
Information: www.safeoakland.com/events or call 510-238-7004.