Letter to Mayor Quan/City Council
Desley A Brooks, Council Member, District 6 Friday, February 28, 2014
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612
RE: East Oakland Neighborhood Crime
Dear Councilwoman Brooks,
We are writing this letter on behalf of the concerned citizens of Millsmont, Eastmont Hills, Sequoya, and King Estates, in the City of Oakland. These neighborhoods are encompassed by beats 25Y, 29X, and 30Y. We wish to address the rapid escalation in both violent and property crime against the people within the community. Our neighborhood is comprised of many stable, long-term residents mixed with a significant influx of new homeowners. All of us have been affected by the extremely dangerous rapid escalation of criminal activity around us. The wave of MULTIPLE armed home invasions-in which known criminals disable alarm systems before they can sound, hold people at gun-point, armed robberies, violent personal assaults, and crimes perpetrated in front of our small children has terrorized our lives. We endure loud noise violations, auto thefts and break-ins, uncontrolled prostitution, and the dumping of murder victims on our neighborhood streets. Criminals threaten the safety of our neighbors and small children-all knowing that they are impervious, because the police are so short-staffed. The quality of life in our community has suffered. We are hard-working nurses, firemen, teachers and engineers: tax-paying voters from all walks of life. We work hard to make our neighborhoods appealing. We have come together through social media and community meetings to address these issues. While we are taking a solution-based approach from our end, the attentions and efforts of the Oakland City Council and Oakland Police Department are needed immediately. There is only so much we can do when confronted with the threat of physical violence and/or a gun, nor do we feel that misdirected vigilantism is the answer. Our neighborhood is not being served, and we demand an increase in police services, including greater consistency of NCPC Liaison between the neighborhood and OPD.
According to a recent KTVU article, the Rockridge neighborhood recently acquired five new officers, and three additional robbery, burglary and assault investigators, for a total of eight new sworn officers. In Area Five (our Area), the risk to personal safety is FOUR TIMES that of Area Two, the safest area in Oakland. Yet Rockridge received the additional allocation as a result of a single set of crimes (armed robbery of carpool commuters of their personal electronics). This is a gross lack of support for OUR community efforts. We demand that the City of Oakland provide a fair allocation of protective services to our area. It smacks of political favoritism that such resources are being allocated to a more affluent, much safer part of the city. . We demand that this issue be addressed, and we do not accept the excuse that retail ventures suffer more deleterious effects and therefore require more protection and defense than families do .
Since 2010, our neighborhoods have experienced a rise in aggravated assault with firearms that is up over 20%, armed robberies have DOUBLED and residential robbery is up nearly 40%. This is in stark contrast to the glowing newspaper article authored by Mayor Quan and Police Chief Whent. Per measure Y, area 5 contains the four most stressed police beats in the city, when measured for various socio-economic factors. Beat 29X and part of 29Y (as mapped in Crimemapping) stated 1,648 reported crimes in the last 180 days, with 438 occurring in 2014 alone (as of 2/21/14). Actual numbers are much higher, as many crimes go unreported. While it is possible that conditions have improved in certain areas, they have seriously degraded in ours, and residents are feeling terrified as a result. This has been exacerbated by the lack of a consistent NCPC Police Liaison Officer. This has cause a potential reactionary attitude in some residents and leaves neighbors feeling neglected by police.
We are trying to deal with these issues ourselves. We have formed crime prevention groups to create awareness through social media to share information. We have installed alarms and fenced out threats (as well as our neighbors). We have networked many cameras and upgraded our security doors and windows. We have lit our yards, purchased dogs, and removed landscaping. Even with all our efforts-and acknowledging Oakland Police Department’s overtaxed forces, we often wait up to 30 minutes ON HOLD, trying to reach a dispatcher reporting crimes in progress, and then wait hours or even days for the police to arrive and/or take a report. This is not working, and it is getting worse.
To OPD’s credit, Oakland has experienced significant success in reducing the numbers for domestic violence and abuse, elder abuse, and rape. We wish to see a similar focus by City Government on the issues stated above. However, the cumulative effect of the home invasions, muggings, shootings, hold-ups, break-ins and body dumps is that we, as people, as neighbors, and as a community at large, begin to accept as status quo things the declining condition of our neighborhood. This is unacceptable to us as parents, and we absolutely will not let this happen to the psyches of our children.
In the last 20 years, the demographic in our area has altered substantially, and as such property taxes have increased proportionally. Long term residents and new homeowners alike are equally appalled at the increase in crime and the inability, or inaction, on the part of Oakland’s Government to address our area’s distressing issues. The City Council and Mayor’s office will lose the votes of our neighbors if they are not addressed immediately. You should consider Area Five a “swing state”, with no guarantee of voter support in the future if something is not done. That our representatives can sit blithely by and make statements of success while we watch what is taking place around us speaks to the level of detachment that some in our city government have to the needs of their constituents. We demand that you take notice, and more importantly, take action, now. Please enumerate the steps that you are taking to mitigate the alarming rise in crime in our area to , and, specifically, the actions you are taking to increase the police presence proportionally, to: Raising Awareness in Oakland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raising Awareness in Oakland at email@example.com.
In addition to this letter, personal examples and stories have been included with signatures from our neighbors and leaders in the community. We will continue to raise awareness, meet and share information ind fully intend to hold the elected officials of City of Oakland accountable if these issues are not addressed. We will NOT be ignored.
Concerned community members of OPD Area 5
CC: Robert Warshaw, Police Dept Auditor; Rebecca Kaplan, Councilmember at-large; Local Media
 Allie Rasmus; Carpool Robbery Highlights Rise in Rockridge Crime Sept 24, 2013; http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/crime-law/carpool-robbery-highlights-rise-rockridge-crime/nZ6sg/
 Area Crime Statistics Area 2, Area 5 for Oakland-2013; http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/OPD/s/CrimeReportArchives/2013/index.htm
 Area 5 2013 Year End Crime Report retrieved Feb 27 2014 from http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/OPD/s/CrimeReportArchives/2013/index.htm
 Jean Quan and Sean Whent; Jan 2nd 2014; (Oakland Sees Crime Drop in 2013) News Artcle SF Gate
 Stressor Index by Community Police Beat Retrieved from; http://oaklandunite.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Map-Stressor-Ranking-1-11-12.pdf
 Crimmapping data retrieved from; http://gismaps.oaklandnet.com/crimewatch/default.asp (parameters available upon request