Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunado Bas Proposes Council Budget Amendments with Historic Investments in Violence Prevention and Alternative Crisis Responders
With Gun Violence on the Rise in Oakland, Bas Maintains Policing Levels at Standard Four Academies Over 2-Year Budget Period, Redirects Mayor’s Proposed Two Additional Academies Towards Doubling the Budget of the Department of Violence Prevention
Oakland – At last week’s Special Council Budget meeting, Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas presented her amendments to Mayor Libby Schaaf’s proposed FY 2021-23 city budget. Bas focused on her goal of building an effective and holistic community safety infrastructure, with significant investments in violence prevention, housing, jobs, parks, arts, and culture directly in Oakland’s most historically disinvested neighborhoods, while continuing to allocate a large portion of the City’s General Purpose Fund to the Police Department.
At a Special Budget Meeting tomorrow, Thursday, June 24th at 10:30 a.m., City Council will discuss and vote on her updated budget amendments. If the final budget is not approved on June 24th, Council will have a final meeting and vote on Tuesday, June 29th at 1:30pm.
Maintaining Standard Policing Levels While Expanding Alternative Responses
Historically, Oakland has funded four police academies over each 2-year budget cycle. Mayor Schaaf’s 2021-2023 budget proposal, however, increased this standard allocation to six police academies, in order to address increased attrition rates and the dismal completion rates of police academy recruits (less than half, 44%, become officers). Bas’ budget redirects the extra funding from Schaaf’s two additional academies, instead, investing $17.4 million in the Department of Violence Prevention, and effectively doubling their budget (and quadrupling the City’s General Purpose Fund contribution to the department) in order to increase and employ violence interrupters and community ambassadors in the neighborhoods that are being most impacted by violence and trauma, and to prevent violence long before it starts. Bas’ proposal thereby maintains standard levels of policing while expanding Oakland’s holistic community safety infrastructure. Her budget team includes Councilmembers Fife, Gallo and Kalb.
Bas’ amendments also utilize the aforementioned savings from Schaaf’s proposed expansion of police academies to provide necessary funding to effectively stand up MACRO — Oakland’s alternative civilian crisis response program in the Fire Department — through which three mobile response teams will respond to non-violent, non-criminal 911 calls for mental and behavioral health incidents in East Oakland in Year 1 and expand to six teams citywide in Year 2.
In Year 2, the budget proposes that response for 9 specific traffic-related 911 calls for service be transferred to Oakland’s Department of Transportation, as recommended by the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force. These include calls for incidents such as improper parking, abandoned automobiles, and vehicles blocking driveways, and make up thousands of calls for 911 service to the Police Department annually. Removing these calls from OPD’s duties can focus officer time and resources on solving serious and violent crime.
“Our community safety infrastructure includes police, as well as violence prevention, youth programs, housing, jobs, arts and culture, parks and recreation, and libraries. We should not be measuring our safety by outdated metrics such as the ratio of police officers to violent crimes, or by how many 911 calls our officers respond to,” said Council President Bas. “Instead, we must measure the impact of our public safety system by our officers’ targeted investigations and effectiveness prioritizing and solving serious and violent crime, asking questions like: What are our clearance (solve) rates for homicides, assault with weapons, and armed robberies? How well are we diverting low-level, non-violent 911 calls to alternative responses in order to unburden our officers of spending time on non-criminal 911 calls — like false building alarms, car tows, and blocked driveways — that are a poor and wasteful use of their expertise and training? How effectively are we getting guns off of our streets?”
Low-Level, Non-Violent Incidents Comprise Majority of 911 Calls for Service and Police Response
Council President Bas has highlighted a key finding informing her budget amendments relating to public safety: half of Oakland’s police resources are spent on patrol — responding to 911 calls — yet 75% of those 911 calls are for low-level, non-criminal incidents, and these are the vast majority of the calls officers respond to. In 2019, this included thousands of calls for blocked driveways, car tows, mental health incidents, false alarms, and requests to file a police report.
Council President Bas has also highlighted the following key investments in Council’s four budget priority areas:
Affordable Housing and Homelessness: Providing sanitation to over 100 encampments while expediting affordable housing solutions for the unhoused; and adding staffing to the city’s Homelessness Division to improve interdepartmental coordination of encampment management and case management for unhoused Oaklanders.
Public Safety & Violence Prevention: Doubling the Department of Violence Prevention budget by adding $17.4 million for violence interrupters and Community Ambassadors rooted in flatland neighborhoods; and investing $4 million more to pilot and expand MACRO, Oakland’s civilian crisis response program for non-criminal, non-violent police calls for service; and laying the foundation to create a department focused on serving youth and families.
Good Jobs & A Vibrant Economy: Providing $300K to small and disadvantaged businesses for facade improvements, repairs, flex street supports, and parklets; $1.5 million in cultural affairs programming and staffing to support artists and festivals, particularly in a post-COVID recovery environment; and $1.5 million in workforce development, training and placement targeted to serve flatland neighborhoods, youth, unhoused, and formerly incarcerated individuals.
Clean, Healthy & Sustainable Neighborhoods: Restoring the Mayor’s elimination of 13.5 FTE crossing guards at Oakland schools to ensure student and family safety; restoring the Mayor’s cuts of 4 environmental enforcement officers who address illegal dumping; piloting a 25-member Parks Ambassadors program to serve parks citywide; investing $500K through Measure HH in community food cards at corner stores in the flatlands to support families in accessing nutritious food.
“With increased violence across Oakland, Council must act by addressing the roots of violence and poverty by (1) investing in violence prevention in the most impacted neighbors, along with jobs, housing, parks, libraries and arts, and (2) improving our system of policing with results that get more guns off the streets, and focus response and investigations on serious and violent crime,” said Council President Bas. “We need to address violence long before it happens, and as we re-open, we need to allow for permitted, organized events across the City for our residents, artists and culture workers.”
About Council President and District 2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas
Nikki Fortunato Bas is President of the Oakland City Council and represents District 2, one of the most diverse districts in the city. Since taking office in 2019, she led the passage of the strongest COVID-19 eviction moratorium in the State of California and a COVID-19 grocery worker hazard pay $5 wage bonus covering 2,000 workers in Oakland’s largest grocery stores. She created a fund for community land trusts to prevent displacement and create permanently affordable, community-owned housing, introduced a progressive corporate tax which will be on the ballot in 2022, and led a task force to reimagine public safety in Oakland with the goal of redirecting half of the police budget towards programs and services that address the root causes of violence. She also serves on the National League of Cities’ inaugural Reimagining Public Safety Task Force. For two decades prior to being elected in 2018, Nikki pushed for worker, environmental, gender and racial justice. She organized immigrant garment workers to win their wages back in Oakland Chinatown, and she worked in coalitions to raise Oakland’s minimum wage with paid sick leave and create living wage jobs on the Oakland Army Base and reduce diesel truck pollution at the Port of Oakland. Learn more at oaklandca.gov/officials/nikki-fortunato-bas.
Post based on press release sent by Oakland Council President Bas to Zennie62Media, Inc.
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