Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf says major crimes are also down 11 Percent from last year
The city finished 2018 with 68 homicides, the lowest total since 1999 when there were 60 killings. Residential burglaries in Oakland were down 20 percent from last year and auto thefts were also down 25 percent. Overall, major crimes declined by 11 percent from last year.
“Making Oakland a safe city has been a community-led movement,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Undoing the cycles of gun violence has taken time and resilience. We have much more work to do, but I am excited that all families in Oakland live in far safer community than they did just six years ago.”
Oakland officials credited the crime drops to improved community bonds and Operation Ceasefire, the city’s primary initiative to reduce group-related gun violence.
In August, researchers from Northeastern and Rutgers University evaluated the impact of the innovative program and concluded Ceasefire was the key driver behind the city’s dramatic decline in shootings and homicides after its 2013 implementation.
Fatal and non-fatal shootings have decreased in Oakland by more than half, or 52 percent since a peak in 2012 when the city saw 127 killings.
“Although we have seen a reduction from triple digits to double digits in homicides since 2012, every number is still a human life lost and a family devastated,” said Chief Anne E. Kirkpatrick. “I remain committed to reducing gun violence, and the trauma it creates, in the City of Oakland. We will continue our relationship-building with our community to earn and strengthen bonds of trust, and continue to direct resources, such as Ceasefire Teams and law enforcement partners like the FBI, to reduce violence and solve crime.”
Along with law enforcement-driven efforts, the City of Oakland’s investments in community-driven, trauma-informed programs and services have also played a significant role in making Oakland a safer, healthier city, particularly for those hit hardest by violence.
The Human Services Department’s violence prevention division, Oakland Unite, funds 34 violence intervention programs citywide that include comprehensive support services such as Life Coaching and Advocacy, Violence Interruption and Street Outreach, Employment and Education Support, and Hospital-based Intervention and Homicide Response.
In 2014, Oakland voters approved the Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention Act (Measure Z) which raises over $27 million annually dedicated to reducing violence in Oakland, of which $9.8 million goes towards community-based violence intervention programs. Last month, the Oakland City Council approved a two-year spending plan that will allow the Human Services Department to continue funding this vital work.
“By prioritizing these critical services for those at the center of the violence, including commercially sexually exploited youth, domestic violence survivors, and those on both sides of the gun – the shooters and the victims – we are able to approach the challenges very differently than law enforcement,” says Peter Kim, Interim Director of the Department of Violence Prevention. “While we have the same goal of eliminating violence in Oakland, we take a public health-oriented approach that focuses on healing, recovery, and alternatives.”
Earlier in 2018, independent evaluator Mathematica Policy Research released findings that showed that adults who participated in Oakland Unite-funded programs had fewer short-term arrests for violent offenses.
“We have much more work to do, but we know we’re moving in the right direction,” Kim added. “In addition to dedicated resources and investment, the key to transforming individual behavior and community norms is intentional, supportive relationships based on trust and accountability.”