Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2017  
  < RETURN  
  Richmond Homicides Down 33% So Far This Year -- Two Cities Emulate Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety
July 11, 2017

Oakland has adopted and Stockton is considering programs based on Richmond’s Office of Neighborhood Safety.

Richmond has had eight homicides to date in 2017, a 33% reduction form this time last year. Of those, six cases are cleared, and the other two are expected to be.

The bad news is that overall, Richmond crime is up 10%.

Oakland creates Department of Violence Prevention

By Rebecca Parr | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: June 30, 2017 at 4:07 am | UPDATED: June 30, 2017 at 5:57 am

OAKLAND — In an effort to rein in the violence that has plagued Oakland for years, the City Council has created a new department and charged it with the ambitious goal of reducing homicides by 80 percent in three years.

“We have to think we can; we have to believe that we can. The contrary is just unacceptable,” said Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who introduced the proposal along with council President Larry Reid.

The council voted 6-1 June 20 to approve the Department of Violence Prevention, with Councilman Noel Gallo dissenting. Councilwoman Desley Brooks was absent.

The department will be on equal footing with the police and fire departments, reporting directly to the city administrator.

“It’s really about building community, not creating another department; we’ve got departments all over the city, and I still can’t pick up the trash, Gallo said in explaining his no vote.

Gallo spoke of the need to give young people alternatives to being on the street, and noted that when he was growing up in Oakland, students could stop by school gyms and libraries after school and into the evening. Schools now lock up after classes end, he said.

“I can invest that million and a half to keep those gymnasiums and libraries open, or I can create a department and hopefully things will change in Oakland,” Gallo said.

The new department and its director will take on Oakland Unite’s duties, including reducing homicides, domestic violence and commercial exploitation of children. Oakland Unite is currently overseen by the Department of Human Services.

“This is not a reflection on our existing staff in any way whatsoever. This is just an effort to up our game even more,” Councilman Dan Kalb said.

The council had been divided over the proposal to create a new department with a new director. Brooks, along with Gallo and Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington, proposed instead creating a blue ribbon commission to look at how to best curb violence.

Councilman Abel Guillen said he wants to make certain the work of the blue ribbon commission is reflected in the new department.

“I have been a voice that has been questioning, that has been pushing, that has been asking, because I have a lot of fear around making promises that I am very concerned about whether we will be able to meet,” Campbell Washington said.

Paula Hawthorn, of Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere, called the goal of reducing homicides by 80 percent in three years audacious.

“When you have itty-bitty goals, you hardly ever make them. We need this audacious goal,” she said.

Campbell Washington said she voted for the proposal to build consensus on how to approach the problem of violence.

“There’s so many people in our city that have been working on these issues over decades, and I really do believe that to be successful, the entire community of Oakland needs to work on these issues together,” she said.

Campbell Washington also suggested giving the new department a different name, perhaps touching on community building and not using the word “violence” in its title.

Six months after being hired, the new department head will present possible actions to the council, using a public health approach, according to the ordinance. The council will decide at that point whether to realign staff or provide more funding.

“I’ve been skeptical about this department because I’m not sure what it is going to do. But the violence in our city needs to be interrupted,” Guillen said. “This department is not going to solve our problems, but it’s really going to be a call to action to the community, as a city for us to wrap our arms around our young people, and really embrace the change that we want to see.”

Oakland’s homicide rate of 20 to 22 per 100,000 people annually is four to five times greater than that of the rest of California. However, it has declined from 1996, when the rate was close to 40 killings per 100,000 people.

In an April 27 report, City Administrator Sabrina Landreth recommended that the council not create a new department.

“There is a need for more evidence to prove that a separate department would further the city’s violence reduction goals,” the report said.

The report said the proposed department would cost $945,411 annually, increasing administrative expenses and likely diverting funds available for direct violence prevention.

“Although far too many Oakland residents still lose their lives to violence, the city has seen a period of time from 2012 to 2016 with consecutive years of fewer than 90 homicides for the first time since the late 1990s,” the report reads.

Homicides, shootings and violent crime overall have dropped in Oakland since 2012, with 85 shootings in 2016, according to the staff report.

Gibson and Reid modeled the new department after Richmond’s Office of Neighborhood Safety,  which has seen a 70 percent reduction in homicides since its launch in 2007.

Stockton mayor weighs program that pays people not to shoot each other

By Don Sweeney

Stockton’s mayor says he’s exploring options to try to reduce violence in the city, including a Richmond program that pays people not to shoot each other.

Four people have been slain in Stockton since Monday, bringing the total number of homicides in the city for 2017 to 23, reports The Stockton Record.

Mayor Michael Tubbs posted a statement on Twitter late Wednesday calling public safety a priority for the community.

“All life is sacred and even one homicide is too many,” Tubbs wrote. “Overall crime continues to trend downward, but we must remain vigilant.”

Tubbs continues that he’s examining programs like Detroit’s Project Green Light and Richmond’s Advance Peace initiative to bolster public safety efforts in Stockton.

Project Green Light
in Detroit installs real-time cameras in select gas stations. The high-definition livestream threads are monitored at police headquarters to deter crminal activity.

The Advance Peace initiative, pioneered in Richmond, essentially pays people with a criminal history of firearms use not to commit crimes. In exchange, they participate in a fellowship program including mentorships and job opportunity programs.

Since the program began in 2007, Richmond has seen a 71 percent reduction in firearm assaults causing injury or death. As of December, 94 percent of those enrolled in the program are still alive and 75 percent are not suspects in new firearm crimes, according to the Advance Peace site.

In an ABC News story from 2016, program founder DeVone Boggan said he disagrees with the notion that the program pays people not to shoot each other. He prefers to say it’s about paying them so they can “get their lives together,” Boggan said.

The Sacramento City Council is considering the same anti-gang program. The council’s expected to vote on the proposal in August.

In his message, Tubbs asked the public to help fight crime by calling the Crime Stoppers hotline at 209-946-0600.

“Together we can all work to take care of each other and make Stockton a safer place,” Tubbs says.

Tubbs was elected in November 2016 at age 26 as the city’s youngest and first African American mayor. He had previously served on the Stockton City Council since 2012.

Stockton has appeared on several Forbes lists of America’s most dangerous cities, but in April the city’s police chief told Fox40 that the city’s crime rate had dropped in 2016 and violent crime had dropped by 8 percent by that point in 2017 over the same period in 2016. Overall crime had dropped by 7 percent, Police Chief Eric Jones said.

Read more here: