Oakland Metropolis Finances 2021-23: The President of Oakland, Bas Metropolis Council presents adjustments
Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunado Bas proposes changes to the council budget with historic investments in violence prevention and alternative crisis response forces
With gun violence escalating in Oakland, Bas is maintaining the police level at Standard four academies over a two-year budget period and is redirecting the mayor’s proposed two additional academies toward doubling the violence prevention department’s budget
Oakland – At last week’s Special Council budget meeting, Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas presented her changes to Mayor Libby Schaaf’s proposed city budget for fiscal year 2021-23. Bas focused on their goal of building an effective and holistic security infrastructure for the community, with significant investments in violence prevention, housing, jobs, parks, arts and culture right in the historically least invested neighborhoods of Oakland while continuing to make a large chunk of it Police General Purpose Fund.
Nikki Fortunado President of Bas Oaklandland City Council
At a special budget meeting tomorrow, Thursday, June 24th, at 10:30 am, the city council will discuss and vote on their updated budget changes. If the final budget is not approved on June 24th, the Council will have a final meeting and vote on Tuesday June 29th at 1:30 pm.
Maintaining the standard police level while expanding alternative responses
Historically, Oakland has sponsored four police academies every two-year budget cycle. However, Mayor Schaaf’s 2021-2023 budget proposal increased that standard allocation to six police academies to counter the increased turnover rates and dismal graduation rates of police academy recruits (less than half, 44%, become civil servants). Bas’s budget diverts the additional funds from Schaaf’s two additional academies, instead investing $ 17.4 million in the violence prevention department, effectively doubling its budget (and quadrupling the city’s contribution to the department’s General Purpose Fund) to increase violence and use interrupters and community ambassadors in the neighborhoods hardest hit by violence and trauma, and to prevent violence long before it begins. Bas’ proposal thus maintains the standard level of policing while expanding Oakland’s holistic security infrastructure. Her budget team includes council members Fife, Gallo and Kalb.
Bas’s amendments also take advantage of the aforementioned savings from Schaaf’s proposed expansion of police academies to provide the funds necessary to effectively support MACRO – Oakland’s alternative civilian emergency response program in the fire service – through which three mobile response teams to nonviolent, non-criminal 911 calls for mental and behavioral health incidents in East Oakland in its first year and expands to six citywide teams in year 2.
In the second year, the budget calls for the response to 9 specific traffic-related emergency calls to be broadcast to the Oakland Department of Transportation as recommended by the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force. This includes calls for incidents such as improper parking, abandoned cars and vehicles blocking driveways, and accounts for thousands of calls to the police department’s 911 service each year. Removing these calls from the role of the OPD can focus officers’ time and resources on solving serious and violent crime.
“Our security infrastructure in the community includes police, violence prevention, youth programs, housing, workplaces, art and culture, parks and recreation, and libraries. We should not measure our security against outdated metrics such as the ratio of police officers to violent crime or how many emergency calls our officers answer, ”said President-in-Office Bas. “Instead, we need to measure the impact of our public safety system against the targeted investigations and effectiveness of our officers by prioritizing and solving serious and violent crime by asking questions such as: What are our homicide detection rates? Gun attacks and armed cases? Robberies? How well do we redirect simple, non-violent 911 calls to alternative responses to relieve our officers from spending time on non-criminal 911 calls – like false building alarms, tow trucks, and blocked driveways – that are a poor and wasteful use of their expertise and training? How effectively do we get guns off our streets? “
Minor, non-violent incidents comprise the majority of 911 calls and police response calls
Council President Bas highlighted an important finding in her budget changes related to public safety: half of Oakland’s police resources are spent on patrols – answering emergency calls – but 75% of those calls are on low-level non-criminal incidents, and this is are the vast majority of the calls officers respond to. In 2019, this included thousands of calls for blocked driveways, tow trucks, mental incidents, false positives, and requests to file a police report.
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President Bas also highlighted the following key investments in the Council’s four budget priority areas:
Affordable Housing and Homelessness: Providing sanitation to over 100 camps while accelerating affordable housing solutions for the unhodged; and adding staff to the city’s homeless department to improve interdepartmental coordination of warehouse management and case management for uninhabited Oaklanders.
Public Safety and Violence Prevention: Doubled Violence Prevention Department budget by adding $ 17.4 million for violence interrupters and community ambassadors rooted in lowland neighborhoods; and invest an additional $ 4 million to test and expand MACRO, Oakland’s civilian crisis response program for non-criminal, non-violent police calls; and lay the foundation for the creation of a department that focuses on the care of young people and families.
Good Jobs and a Vibrant Economy: Providing $ 300,000 to Small and Disadvantaged Businesses for Facade Improvements, Repairs, Flex Street Support, and Parklets; $ 1.5 million in cultural affairs programs and staff to support artists and festivals, particularly in a post-COVID recovery environment; and $ 1.5 million in human resource development, training and placement targeting lowland neighborhoods, youth, unhodged and previously incarcerated people.
Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Neighborhoods: Restore Mayor’s elimination of 13.5 FTE transition guards in Oakland schools to keep students and families safe; Restoring Mayor’s cuts to 4 environmental law enforcement officers dealing with illegal dumping; Piloted a 25-person Parks Ambassadors program to support parks across the city; Invest $ 500,000 through Measure HH in community grocery cards in lowland corner shops to help families gain access to nutritious food.
“With violence on the rise in Oakland, the Council must act by addressing the roots of violence and poverty by (1) investing in violence prevention in its hardest hit neighbors, along with jobs, homes, parks, libraries and the arts, and (2) our police system with results that bring more guns off the streets and focus the response and investigation on serious and violent crime, “said President-in-Office Bas. “We have to fight violence long before it happens, and when we reopen we have to enable legal, organized events across the city for our residents, artists and cultural workers.”
About Council President and District 2 Council Member Nikki Fortunato Bas
Nikki Fortunato Bas is President of Oakland City Council and represents District 2, one of the most diverse boroughs in the city. Since taking office in 2019, she has led the passage of the strongest COVID-19 eviction moratorium in the state of California and a COVID-19 grocery worker paying a $ 5 wage bonus that covers 2,000 workers in Oakland’s largest grocery stores. She created a fund for Community Land Trusts to prevent displacement and create permanently affordable community-owned housing, introduced a progressive corporation tax that will be a candidate for election in 2022, and led a task force to reinvent public safety in Oakland with the aim of redirecting half of the police budget to programs and services that address the root causes of violence. She is also a member of the National League of Cities’ first public safety redesign task force. For two decades before her 2018 election, Nikki pushed for worker, environmental, gender and racial justice. She organized immigrant textile workers to reclaim their wages in Oakland Chinatown, and she worked in coalitions to raise the Oakland minimum wage through paid sick leave and create living wage jobs at Oakland Army Base and diesel truck pollution in the port from Oakland reduce. More information is available at oaklandca.gov/officials/nikki-fortunato-bas.
Article based on a press release from Oakland Council President, Bas to Zennie62Media, Inc.
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