Let’s Kick the Habit

We are being short-changed.  The Oakland City Council and the Oakland Police Officers Association have just agreed to spend $2.4 million from city coffers, not to hire more police officers, but to recruit them.

While Oakland residents fret about their security, city leaders present them with a bill for an empty plate.  Nobody has to account for the money that was already committed over to the Oakland Police Department through Measure Y.  Nobody has to bring skyrocketing police overtime costs back down to earth.  Nobody will say how much the redeployment plan will ultimately cost.  Even more frightening, nobody can say — with any degree of certainty — that more money in OPD pockets will provide solutions to problems that produce crime in the first place.

Yet deals are being made.  Checks are being cut.  City Council members and the police union are making self-congratulatory remarks.

Let’s be real about where crime comes from.  It comes from a sickly education system that can’t produce students qualified for a UC system education.  It comes from rising and pervasive unemployment.  It comes from devalued youngsters and ill-funded violence prevention and drug-treatment programs.  It comes from gentrification and mutual suspicion.  And it comes from favoring moneyed interests over citizens.

How is it the $2.4 million being forked over to OPD exactly equals what Edward Hannemann (coordinator for the Oakland Community After School Alliance) claims the city owes the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth?  How is it the city will mindlessly open its wallet to ensure negotiations with the police union proceed quickly while sitting back and watching our schools teeter on the precipice of yet another strike?

It’s habit . . . bad habit.  Time and again, Oakland’s underlying social problems are ignored and crime rates spike.  With the spike comes OPD demands for more money.  Their increased piece of the budget pie forces cuts in after-school or Parks and Recreation programs.  The bottom line — a rootless community and more crime.

Let’s kick our addiction to guns over butter.  We need a comprehensive plan to deal with economic opportunities for young people and programs to deal with crime prevention.  We need police officers who live and work in Oakland, who are trained and rewarded for community policing.

We need calm, compassionate leadership for all of us.  And we need to have the courage to hold our leaders accountable.

Aimee Allison is a Green Party member and candidate for District 2 of the Oakland City Council.  The full bio of Aimee Allison is available at www.aimeeallison.org.  For more information, call 510-277-0182.

Aimee Allison