Oakland police chief announces new crime fighting strategy

March 18, 2013 6:30:41 PM PDT
In an effort to get a handle on a violent crime problem that is reaching crisis levels, Oakland's police chief has a new strategy.

Neighborhood policing has been tried before in Oakland, but this time Chief Howard Jordan told us he thinks it will work, despite having fewer officers than they did last time they tried it.

"This is the model that is working in many, many cities across the country," said Jordan.

Jordan announced a new "neighborhood policing" plan for his city that he believes will not only take a bite out of crime, but also strengthen ties between his officers and the community.

"Going to a neighborhood policing, where captains will be in charge of a smaller, more manageable geographic area gives us the best option to do that," said Jordan.

Under the old scheme, Area 2 basically ran from Fruitvale all the way to the San Leandro border, encompassing three districts, under the direction of one captain. In the new plan, the same area is broken into two districts, 4 and 5, each with its own captain.

"They will be held accountable for identifying and implementing neighborhood specific crime reduction strategies," said Asst. Chief Oakland Police Anthony Toribio.

A component of the plan would also involve each district having its own citizen's advisory council.

"It gives me the time and flexibility to really reach out to the community and engage in problem-saving, because I am convinced the solution to crime and reducing crime rests in the community," said Oakland Police Capt. Steve Tull.

City Councilman Noel Gallo rode along with Oakland police last weekend and saw immediately which crimes need the most attention in his Fruitvale District.

"In my immediate area, the greatest challenge that I have are the assaults, the robberies, the shootings and the prostitution," said Gallo.

The Oakland Police Officers Association had little to say about the plan, except to wonder how it will make much difference on the street, given the department is so far short of its recommended size of about 1,000 officers.

"The bottom line for us is there are 611 officers on duty today. That's several hundred less than there were just a few short years ago and hundreds less than where we need to be," said Barry Donelan from the Oakland Police Officers Association.

This neighborhood policing model was one of the major recommendations brought forward by the consultant hired by the city of Oakland, not only as a way to combat crime, but also to bring the department into compliance with the negotiated settlement after the Riders case a decade ago.


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