OAKLAND -- About 700 people turned out Saturday morning to see a citywide public safety plan that emphasized better communication and teamwork on existing ideas more than it proposed new ones.
In a four-hour summit at Laney College, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan joined local leaders in parole and probation, policing, criminal prosecution, public schools, gang outreach and youth employment. She and others laid out a priority list that included targeted police enforcement, expanding care for at-risk children to include their families, and breaking down "silos" that have multiple agencies doing similar or related public safety work.
"It's not really my plan -- it's our plan," Quan told the crowd that had packed one side of the gymnasium bleachers. "I'm bringing it to you for input."
People in attendance were given surveys about their priorities, and Quan's staff will read and incorporate them into a final presentation to the City Council in the next few weeks, mayoral public safety adviser Reygan Harmon said.
"Oakland has all the ingredients, but we don't have it put all together," Alameda County Chief Probation Officer David Muhammad told the crowd. That, he said, was what the summit was about. "I know there are many disagreements in this room. But there is probably more we agree on than we don't. And if we can decide to do the things we agree on, we can make a significant difference in the city of Oakland."
Interim police Chief
"It's not totally a law enforcement strategy. There has to be a holistic approach, getting into the community and building trust. We can't do our best job unless the public trusts us," Jordan said.
"And I acknowledge, we have to do a better job with how we treat our residents," he added, to applause from the crowd.
As far as targeted enforcement goes, Quan's staff used police data to identify 100 blocks where they say 90 percent of shootings and homicides happened in the past five years. Those blocks are clustered into two areas in West Oakland and four areas in East Oakland, and Jordan and Quan said police will begin concentrating more resources there. Lesser crimes in other neighborhoods will also see a drop, Quan argued, because many criminals in those neighborhoods are coming from the problem areas anyway.
Many of the ideas are not necessarily new, but that's not the plan's focus, Harmon said -- the focus is on better coordinating the work already being done, said Lewis Cohen, a high-ranking Quan staffer.
"If you look at 20 years of homicide data, we've been failing to appreciate that over the last five years we've been doing some things that work," Cohen said. "We are trying to recognize there is an increase this year, and we need to adjust what we've been doing, but we're not starting from scratch. We had five consecutive years of success."
Quan said her working relationships with Jordan, who she's known for two decades, and District Attorney Nancy O'Malley will help increase coordination.
Council President Larry Reid said he worries some of the ideas are not sustainable without more resources, particularly packing police into just 100 blocks of a city that takes up about 80 square miles.
"The first time you have a council member getting calls from their constituents in Rockridge or Montclair because burglaries or auto thefts are going up, we'll end up abandoning those 100 blocks," he said. "It's a challenge. We don't have the officers we need."
At the end of the summit, the crowd returned to the gym from two-dozen smaller workshops on topics like domestic violence, human trafficking, curfew and loitering laws, gun violence, re-entry issues and youth mentoring. Quan asked the crowd how many people learned something they wanted to act upon -- hands went up from more than half the crowd.
"Good," Quan said. "Welcome to the team."
Contact Sean Maher at 510-208-6430.