The City of Oakland’s Public Safety Committee has approved the contract to hire the controversial William Bratton in a special consultant role, helping, but not replacing Howard Jordan, the current Oakland Police Chief.
This blogger’s doesn’t come to bury the idea of Bratton, but to attack the very notion that the police will solve the problems Oakland currently faces. The reason is simple: the nature of the crimes are such that more police will not solve the problem. Oakland needs more jobs for low-skilled workers – that’s the problem and no one in a position of responsibility wants to see that fact.
Consider the crimes: on Monday, a person was shot and there were no suspects taken into custody. Over the weekend, five people attending a birthday were shot. On Saturday, a 20-year-old young man was found shot in his car in the driveway of a home.
Think about that. He was in the driveway of a home. What’s a police officer going to do to prevent that? Is he or she going to be embedded in the home? There’s nothing Bratton, or Chief Jordan or anyone in the Oakland Police Department can do to prevent these violent happenings.
The implicit idea that spending money to hire more police officers, or having special programs like “stop and frisk” (which hasn’t been implemented in Oakland, but with Bratton’s possible hire the operative word becomes “yet”) all imply that the common criminal is just someone walking the streets looking for someone to rob. The nature of the crimes committed where people have lost their lives in Oakland, are for the most part not of that type at all, and involve people who seem to know each other. They’re not necessarily gang members, and only a person who spends too much time watching TV would romanticize the problem as a Gang War.
The problem is a subset of a rampant incivility in our society. There’s a meanness out there that did not exist before. People walk on the right side of the street, then walk from right to left where you are, and toward you, and then expect you to move out of the way. Or you could be standing at a mall and a woman walks right past you within an inch, doesn’t say ‘excuse me’ and just goes to a wall of candy behind you you weren’t aware of.
That happened to me on Monday, and the woman who did it, I asked her why she did it; she said “I was in a zone.” Bull. She was rude. I’m strongly considering operating my camera on the spot when that happens – you’ve been warned.
But all of that – those acts of unkindness – come to define life in Oakland and San Francisco. What do we do about it? Do we ask as policy for Oaklanders to walk with their heads up and talk to each other? No. Do we ask for Oaklander not to walk toward each other in an attacking way? No. We’ve done nothing other than make a lot of hooey noise about hiring more police or a new police chief assistant, or consultant, or whatever title Bratton’s going to hold.
That’s going to be a $200,000 waist of taxpayer bucks if the Oakland City Council approves it. What we should do with that money is apply it to a gun buy-back program, since they’ve been so very successful. We could get upwards of 300 guns out of Oakland homes, and I’ll bet we get the guns that belonged to some of the people who lived in the houses where the crimes were committed.
That’s a good start for Oakland, but some are fixated with the ‘police as militia” approach.
Let’s see if they have the stomach to waste money.