Oakland California – On Thursday January 9th The Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA Police Union) released a statement in response to Councilmember Sheng Thao’s commitment to reducing crimes in the City of Oakland. This statement was released hours before the Councilmember prepared to co-host a Community Town Hall on public safety in her district in partnership with members of the Oakland Police Department, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, and community leaders to address the increase of crime in District 4. The Councilmember’s office would like to set the record straight around a few points OPOA made in their statement.
The Councilmember recognizes the need for partnership with various stakeholders in order to address increases in crime. During her first year on the Council, which she has just concluded, Councilmember Thao has worked with OPD, the community and local businesses to combat and deter crime. This includes, public safety meetings within the community with OPD, a safety walk within business corridors where Councilmember Thao introduced small business owners to their walking area officer and developed a public safety tip video with OPD (https://vimeo.com/379081415/016c14b9a6 ) and had ongoing meetings with the area Captains that were available.
In November the Councilmember’s office reached out to the area Captains to push for more visibility of officers in business corridors during the holiday season, this included but not limited to Montclair Village. The Councilmember respects the challenges OPD faces in trying to allocate resources to neighborhoods in response to crime and has made good-faith attempts in working directly with OPD, NOT the OPOA, in overcoming these challenges. The OPOA is making it seem it is the Councilmember’s fault for the reduction of overall police officers, however the Councilmember worked with her colleagues and the Mayor to ensure OPD had the budget to pay for vacancies. It is not within the Councilmember’s legal authority to fill vacancies per Oakland’s Charter.
“I have been very public about the need to fill officer vacancies for some time now,” stated Councilmember Sheng Thao, “we are not able to hire quickly enough to keep up with attrition and current officers retiring. I’ve continuously said at community meetings, town halls, and house meet and greets and on record that OPD should amp up its local hiring process to help through their vacancy and retention challenges and hiring quality officers. Under Chief Kirkpatrick, OPD is moving in this direction.”
The Councilmember has no interest in politicizing the death of her constituents and is disappointed in the divisive nature of the OPOA’s actions. Councilmember Thao believes that strong relationships with stakeholders is key to resolving violence, property crimes, robberies, and other quality of life issues facing the people of Oakland, including our affordable housing crisis and homeless crisis.
“I am taking this very seriously,” explained the Councilmember, “ that is why I want to bring stakeholders together, not start unnecessary political fights at the expense of my constituents and the residents of Oakland; this is why our Community Safety Town Hall will feature leadership from OPD, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, and important community leaders.”
The Community Safety Town Hall will happen tonight, Thursday January 9th from 7pm-8:30pm at Montclair Presbyterian 5701 Thornhill Drive. All residents are welcome to join the discussion on making Oakland a safer place.