Volunteers campaign to prevent police layoffs

October 2, 2010 6:37:47 PM PDT
Once again, Oakland finds itself drastically short of police officers.

On Saturday, dozens of volunteers went door-to-door in Oakland to launch a grassroots campaign for two ballot measures they say will prevent more police layoffs.

The volunteers gathered at St. Columbus Church before they went door knocking. In front of the church was a mock cemetery full of crosses representing people murdered in Oakland this year. The proponents of Measure BB and Measure W say they are meant to address the killings.

Oakland High student Carla Broadnax rehearsed her lines at St. Columba's Catholic Church Saturday. She and others volunteered to go door-to-door campaigning for two ballot measures which will raise money for public safety and restore many of the laid-off police officers. They will also provide more funding for intervention programs among youngsters.

"I started stealing cars, stealing candy, stealing clothes," volunteer Daniel Mora told ABC7.

He was in and out of juvenile hall from the age of 12 to 17. Thanks to intervention programs, he is now straight.

"Long story short was that I recently graduated from UC Berkeley and I'm a case manager now, and I work with other young people," he said.

Oakland has 120 fewer cops now due to layoffs and attrition. City Councilwoman Jean Quan says it will get worse if the measures fail.

"If it does't pass, we will probably have to lay off even more police officers. This is worth about, on the police side, about $10 million," she said.

16-year-old Robert Paige knocked on doors Saturday with his 6-year-old nephew Brandon. He wants to make Oakland a safer place not only for himself, but for Brandon.

"I live here. I might live here for the rest of my life, so I might as well benefit it and make it better for my future generation," he said.

"These perpetrators of violence and individuals who are gang-affiliated, let them know there are other routes they can take," volunteer Ron Linzie told ABC7.

Linzie and his two companions see public safety as the number one issue in Oakland. They gave their pitch to Rick Wallenbrock whose home is in North Oakland. He says it is not a question of paying more money. It is about accountability.

"I'm happy to pay more taxes if I feel they're being effectively used," he said.

Also in the ballot is Measure X, which would bring back dozens more officers my imposing a $360 parcel tax. The Police Officers Association wants the city to fill some of the openings created by attrition, but the city says if it does that, it may have to lay off those officers if Measure X fails.

So far, polls show Measure X losing.


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