Is Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums Finally Doing Something About Crime in Oakland?

Oakland's mayor is actually doing something

Chip Johnson, over at the Chronicle, has a column out entitled “Oakland’s mayor is actually doing something.” In his column he praises the mayor for a recent memo putting city department heads on notice that he expects more support from them in the future to address Oakland’s troubles.

Johnson also goes over some of the Mayor’s promises in terms of beefing up the police force in Oakland.

I’m going to take a wait and see on this one, but I do worry that it’s not going to be enough to continue stemming the bloodshed that is going on at the present time in Oakland.

The Mayor does need to make sure that all department heads are accountable for their jobs, but, in my opinion, the Mayor also needs to go a lot farther.

Specifically, Mayor Dellums needs to use his position of power to take an even bigger stand against the crime — and he needs to do it very publicly.

My suggestions for the Mayor?

1. Declare a “War on Crime” in Oakland. Do it loudly, do it publicly. Don’t shy away or try to sweep the attrocious murder rate under the rug. Acknowledge it and use it publicly to get everyone from CNN to the neighborhood blogger to push his message.

As part of this “War on Crime” bring in some outside experts to form a commission on crime to make recommendations on Oakland’s crime problems. A few recommendations for who he might ask to serve on this commission? Former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, Former SF Mayor and Former SF Police Chief Frank Jordan, Former SF Police Chief Alex Fagan. I’m sure there are others. Forget about politics. Get some folks with some experience.

Spend 90 days on this commission and then report back to the city’s residents on what recommendations have been made and what he will be doing to improve our crime problem.

2. Make a strong stand against illegal guns. Don’t just run another boring cash for guns campaign. Dellums should use his political clout to demand legislation that will institute life in prison for any criminal caught with an illegal gun.

There is simply no reason that criminals should have guns — and since most of the murders are being done with guns (and I assure you, many of these are illegal weapons), Dellums needs to push to increase the consequences for having one. He should demand life in prison.

Jared Adams who recently shot young 10-year old Christopher Rodriguez had previously been arrested on an illegal weapons charge. Jared Adam’s last sentence in jail (after a long string of previous convictions including running from the cops multiple times in addition to his weapons conviction) was a mere 6 months (he probably served 3). Thanks a lot Alameda Superior Court Judge Leo Dorado!

The fact that criminals do not receive much harsher sentences for illegal guns is a tragedy. It sends the message to criminals that if they get caught with an illegal gun that they will merely get a slap on the wrist. Dellums should make this a centerpiece of his “War Against Crime.”

The good citizens of Oakland deserve to walk (and photowalk) their streets without fear of being shot by thugs. And yes they also deserve to be able to send their 10-year old children to piano lessons without fear that they may come home paralyzed.

Personally I’m not expecting much to come out of these memos from “soft on crime” Dellums. But ,like I said, I’ll take a wait and see attitude. I’d feel much better though if he used his position more forcefully beyond simply hiring a few more cops.

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6 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Bill Gould wrote:

    I agree while I don’t own a gun and generally abhor them, I’m certainly not a proponent of locking folks up and throwing away the key for something like carrying an illegal gun. In fact I don’t believe in life in prison for virtually anything except for death penalty type cases. I’m against overusing incarceration
    for both cost reasons and because I don’t believe prisons do a good job on rehab issues.

    Interestingly I served on a jury two years ago or so where a guy admitted to mudering his estranged wife (videotaped confession to the police). As an alternate juror
    I had no hand in the sentencing but can tell you that the jury decided to give the guy 18 years in prison for 2nd degree murder.

    I used to have a better handle on things in Oaktown when I lived in the Bay. I always worry about law and order preaching but Im also concerned in particular about
    Black and Brown folks being victimized by crime. I’m interesting in getting a better handle on effective gun reduction strategies (I realize success would require
    multi-level tactics)

    —–Original Message—–
    >From: Bikila Ochoa
    >Sent: Jan 28, 2008 10:50 AM
    >To: Bill Gould
    >Subject: Re: Is Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums Finally Doing Something About Crime
    in Oakland?
    >
    >I don’t know a thing about Oakland, but the life in prison for gun
    >possession argument is just ridiculous. I understand the sentiment, but
    >that policy doesn’t work on a number of levels. First, our prisons are
    >busting at the seams with Blacks and Latinos. Second, this legislation
    >penalizes the buyers and not the sellers. Third, though I’m not a gun
    >carrier, people carry guns for protection, as well. I’m NOT an advocate
    >of violence, particularly gun violence. However, there is a serious
    >chicken and egg issue with regards to gun violence in poor communities.
    >Gun possession is both a cause and a consequence. Finally, we know from
    >statistical analysis that incarceration accounts for 1/3 at most of the
    >reduction in crime. Incarceration is an expensive investment that
    >doesn’t yield nearly as much as one would expect. This is just my first
    >take on the issue, but I found the response a bit pat…
    >
    >Bill Gould wrote:
    >> I just came across this blog. What do you think? Admittedly Im a lil out
    >> touch about Oakland’s latest situation

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    I’m against overusing incarceration
    for both cost reasons and because I don’t believe prisons do a good job on rehab issues.

    Bill, thanks for your insightful comment and note from Bikila as well.

    10-year old Christopher Rodriquez (shot, allegedly, by Jared Adams) will be paralyzed for *the rest of his life*. A 10-year old child. Jared Adams, who was out of prison after previously being sent there, among other things, for an illegal gun charge. Had he been imprisoned for life previously, when he’d had an illegal gun charge, Christopher Rodriguez would still be able to talk walks with his mom and dad, run around his school and play sports like baseball, basketball, etc.

    As it stands now this young man will never walk again.

    Let me ask you this. How many more cases are there like young Christopher’s where illegal guns are causing this kind of damage and how can we continue to absord *that* cost as a society.

    In terms of your point about the rehab issue, this really shouldn’t matter. If the criminal is locked up for life then we don’t have to worry about rehabilitating him necessarily.

    In terms of the cost of his life imprisonment, I’d rather our society pay this cost if it means that an innocent 10-year old got to keep his legs.

    There are of course better ways to manage funding our prisons. Why, for instance, is one of our largest prison’s (San Quentin) sitting on one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the state? With amazing Bay views. Homes in Tiburon less than a mile away sell for millions of dollars. The state could sell the land at San Quentin and build prisons big enough to hold 10x as many people out in the desert somewhere.

    The state could also stop prosecuting marijuana offenders. Stop incarcerating people for pot. It’s a minor victimless crime no worse for people than alcohol. Use this money instead to pay for incarceration of those caught with illegal guns.

    In terms of Bikila’s point about people needing guns for protection, I’m not arguing that point. I’m just saying that it needs to be done legally. Nobody needs an unregistered gun with a serial number filed off for protection. Nobody needs an illegal machine gun for protection. And certainly felons have no business having access to guns at all — even if they do need one for protection.

    Gun ownership should be a privilege for law-abiding citizens who go through a process of registration and a background check it should not be something that can just be bought on the street by gangsters like it is today.

    Take away their guns and you take away some of their power. You take away some of the fear. Law-abiding citizens who live in Oakland deserve this. They deserve to be able to send their 10-year old to a piano lesson without having some piece of crap like Jared Adams shoot and paralyze their child.

    Unless we send a strong enough message to criminals with guns on the street, they will continue to be there day in and day out murdering (mostly) the black and brown folks of Oakland.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The fact that he is Attorney General aside, why is Jerry Brown considered to be an “expert” in the area of crime prevention? His terms as mayor would surely not be eveidence of much expertise.

  4. Thomas Hawk says:

    To continue, a big part of the problem is that guns are celebrated in the gangster culture. They are as much fashion as anything else.

    My brother told me that he was in the EB Games video game store in Oakland yesterday and that the clerk at the store told him that that particular store in Oakland had more orders for the upcoming Grand Theft Auto IV game (note the guy with a big gun on the promo material selling the game) than any other EB Games store in the U.S. I’m not saying violent video games are responsible for the celebration of the gun in gangster culture, but we need to remove the power of the gun both culturally and physically in the gangster community. Putting a strong enough consequence on illegal gun possession will go a long way towards doing this.

  5. Thomas Hawk says:

    The fact that he is Attorney General aside

    Anonymous. I don’t think you can put this aside. While recognizing that Brown’s own record on crime wasn’t the best, I think prosecution of these criminals would need to be an integral component to any “War on Crime.” By involving Brown it would help ensure that the district attornies who prosecute these criminals were involved in the process.

    It doesn’t do much good to keep arresting these criminals if they are not effectively prosecuted.

    Despite his failure with the crime rate in Oakland though I do think Brown has some interesting ideas though.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Fair enough. Just wanted to get a little more context for it. Thanks for the rapid and thorough response.

    And I can agree that cities such as Oakland need to do more to rid our communities of this addiction to guns.