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Catherine Dass, left, is comforted by an unidentified person near the crime scene where her boyfriend was found shot to death in the back seat of car at the intersection of Mountain Boulevard and Kuhnle Avenue in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. (Ray Chavez/Staff)

Seven people killed in seven days. There might have been five more had the shots fired outside a movie theater at Jack London Square last Sunday night killed four teens and a 23-year-old woman instead of merely wounding them.

How have Oakland's leaders responded to the worst sustained killing spree in the city in nearly five years? To a 15-year-old being shot to death outside his home in East Oakland?

An 84-year-old man being beaten so badly outside his pickup truck in the middle of the afternoon that he died the next day?

Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan organized a news conference that had nothing to do with Oakland's latest spasm of violence.

Kaplan was protesting federal prosecutors' efforts to shut down the Harborside Health Center by filing a civil forfeiture action against the medical marijuana dispensary's landlords. Oakland stands to lose the $1 million a year that the dispensary pays the city in taxes if it is forced to close.

Kaplan denounced the federal action, saying it would deprive Oakland of sorely needed funds. She also said federal law enforcement officials ought to be using their limited resources to fight violent crime.

While we're on that topic, what are Oakland's elected officials doing to address the violence?

Come to think of it, I haven't heard a peep from anyone on the council about the July 6-12 killings. Nobody I know has rushed to call Hadari Askari's killing an "execution." The teen was fatally shot near his house Tuesday, one day after starting an internship program at the Oakland Fire Department where he was pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter.

Mayor Quan told a local television station, "Nobody has to probably deal with the face of violent crime more than I do."

Seriously?

I am sure it is difficult for the mayor to find words of comfort for families of those who have lost loved ones to the never-ending violence in this city and face their suffering and to receive daily reports from the Police Department about violent crimes.

But at the end of the day, Quan returns home to her nice house in the hills where people don't hear gunshots all hours of the day and night.

Dealing with the face of violent crime is walking out your front door and seeing one of the neighborhood children lying in a pool of blood, gasping for breath.

Oakland officials are not dealing with violent crime.

If they were, they would have gotten serious about coming up with a strategy for eventually bringing the Police Department up to strength.

They would invest the time to analyze the violence epidemic so they could put forward a comprehensive, data-driven strategy that would have a shot at making things better, instead of continuing to throw money at programs that have no demonstrated record of reducing violence.

On Wednesday, I went to San Quentin State Prison to speak to a group of inmates about newspaper journalism.

The class is part of San Quentin's Prison University Project. Through a partnership with Patten University in Oakland, inmates can obtain an associate degrees.

Volunteers -- in this case my father, William Drummond, a professor of journalism at UC Berkeley -- teach the classes.

Many of the students are serving life terms.

The one group you seldom hear from in discussions about urban violence are the offenders.

The inmates had very astute observations.

One former gang member said those who want the violence to stop must find a way to communicate with people who have influence over those doing the shooting and convince them that it is in their best interest to put down their guns. That means finding intermediaries they trust who are not the police or community leaders, who have no credibility on the street.

Another inmate said that in his view, the violence problem is so massive, no one has been willing to do the hard work on the local and national level that would be required to even begin to deal with it.

"There is a high level of realism with them," says Danica Rodarel, a graduate student at UC Berkeley who works as a coordinator for the Prison University Project. "When you are in there you can't just fake optimism."

We could use a good injection of realism into the dialogue about public safety.

Tammerlin Drummond's column runs Tuesdays and Sundays. Contact her at tdrummond@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/tammerlin.