Crime is a growing concern across the nation, especially in progressive cities. The pandemic shutdowns led to an increase in criminality as people lost jobs and businesses – but nothing contributed to rising crime rates quite like the defund-the-police movement, which caused law enforcement budgets to be cut, departments to be depleted, and officers to be maligned by officials and the public. It has gotten so bad that there is a call in Oakland, CA, to declare a “state of emergency.”
Oakland Crime Soars
The Bright Side of the Bay currently employs just over 700 police officers. According to Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association, that number should be closer to 1,200. As posted on the union’s website: “Crime rates are surging in Oakland this year, police are badly understaffed, and response times to critical calls are pathetically slow, making the city an increasingly dangerous place to live.” And:
“From Jan. 1 to July 23 this year, violent crime in the city is up 15% over the same period last year, and property crime has increased 28%. Don’t count on a cop to show up in a timely fashion in an emergency. If it’s not an immediate crisis, the wait can be hours or an entire day.”
During one week in July, several serious crimes were committed according to the site: a gun battle between two speeding vehicles near police headquarters; a 67-year-old woman robbed and carjacked; a 62-year-old man beaten with a rifle, robbed, and carjacked after using an ATM; a pregnant woman shot. The list goes on. In fact, car break-ins are at “historic levels” and armed robberies are “approaching all-time highs,” ZeroHedge reported.
According to FBI statistics, compared to 2019, assaults and vehicle break-ins have doubled while carjackings have tripled. Oakland’s safety score is 1, the lowest possible out of 100 from NeighborhoodScout. This means that it is considered safer than only 1% of other areas across the country.
Residents have been asking their elected officials for help and attending council meetings. The NAACP wrote a letter to local government, saying: “We call on all elected leaders to unite and declare a state of emergency and bring together massive resources to address our public safety crisis.” Furthermore:
“Failed leadership, including the movement to defund the police, our District Attorney’s unwillingness to charge and prosecute people who murder and commit life threatening serious crimes, and the proliferation of anti-police rhetoric have created a heyday for Oakland criminals. If there are no consequences for committing crime in Oakland, crime will continue to soar.”
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office rebutted the letter, stating: “We are disappointed that a great African American pastor and a great African American organization would take a false narrative on such an important matter.” However, in 2021, the city council approved a $17.4 million cut in funding to the Oakland Police Department.
Even with crime on the rise and citizen complaints, the elected officials approved a budget for 2023-2025 in June that promises even more cuts. More than half of the $4.2 billion budget is tied up in restricted funds, explained The Oaklandside. “The other half of the budget – the general fund – had a $360 million deficit that needed to be balanced, which meant cutting spending across departments.” While the city council approved $722 million for the police department as well as funding six police academies over the next two years, it reduced sworn police officers from 726 to 710 and trimmed overtime by 15%. Councilmember Dan Kalb explained the cuts to The Oaklandside:
“If we want to reduce funding to rec centers, cut back library hours, and close senior centers, you could free up money for the police department, but then what kind of city would we be living in? I don’t think there’s any appetite by the council or a significant portion of the public to have significant cuts to other departments to add even more money to the police department.”
To help fight against crime and protect themselves, citizens have been told to install bars across their windows and carry air horns to discourage criminals. But in Oakland, where police response time could be as long as a day, those deterrents seem rather anemic.
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