"Each cop can be the Mayor of his Beat. Now that's community policing!"
We can criticize our cops, after all they are ours; and we can praise them too, after all they are our family.
"NOT VOTING IS A SURE VOTE FOR THE CANDIDATE YOU'RE NOT VOTING FOR."
- The wrong hard-nosed Oakland Mayor might get rid of a Police Chief to satisfy a back-room political deal, to make a front-room political point, or simply to pretend action. That would be a mistake. Ron Oz has worked as an Oakland cop for some of the best nationally recognized Police Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs in the country. He has also worked with and observed the current Police Chief, the entire Command Structure, and explored the intimate workings of the Police Department. He knows the ingredients for Oakland can be blended into the finest Police Department in the country. The men and women of OPD are top notch and the community can demand a lot of them. We only have to make community policing work by having the police work more effectively within the community. It will work with the right Attitude coming from the Mayor. It's easy to predict a family's attitude and chances for success by looking at the head of the family.
- Political meddling, gross misperceptions, confused working conditions, severe understaffing, misplaced City priorities, outside mischaracterizations, and too many stubby fingers in the batter have resulted in a Perfect Storm of discontent and ineffectiveness in Oakland policing, and the public perceptions of Policing in Oakland have become dismal.
- Community Policing is an entire fabric, not a special program. It isn't calling everyone into neighborhood fortresses. It isn't passing a Measure Y to create an adjunct police department. It's a force, a police force, a community force, enabled only by a Mayor who can define, prioritize, and organize police efforts to offer our citizens Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Each cop, working each Beat, wants to be important, doing important things, making a difference. Each cop will be the Mayor on his/her Beat.
- Having about the same number of police officers today that we had in 1955 is a crime of City Council neglect. When the City Council reduced the authorized police officers from 780 to 740, and "froze" the hiring of new officers, that saved a nickel and cost a fortune. After Measure Y we have 802 "authorized" police officers and over a hundred vacancies. What were they thinking while adding thousands of new employees to the payroll during the past 51 years, without adding more cops? We need 200 more officers. We can pay for them without a dime in increased taxes or "revenue enhancements." Every one of them should be out in the community. One thing for sure, we'll get the police to Park-and-Walk and Stop-and-Talk as Ron Oz proposed.
- Chief Tucker is the expert, and he was hired to run the Police Department. What he needs most is a Mayor with an Attitude that is supportive and knowledgeable. He doesn't need a Mayor who wants to micromanage his organization. Pushing for immediate political results will only result in ultimate failures and sad disappointments. Ron Oz knows there are different police ideologies, management styles, organizational schemes, and mission methodologies. He's seen and operated under many of them. There is no rigid and correct prescription. Success means melding the differences into an organization that works properly, effectively, and eagerly. Oakland needs "Police Presence."
- The Police Union shouldn't be used as a scapegoat of blame for our crime rate; no one credited them when the crime rate was dropping. They've had the same benefits of hours, working conditions, and seniority systems all those years. That doesn't mean we should engrave perpetually all contract benefits into tombstone granite. It's a give and take process. If we take, then we should be prepared to give. The Union President works hard and effectively as an OPOA leader looking out for the welfare of all police officers. Ron Oz knows that while officers look out for citizens someone must look after them too. He was deeply involved during the sixties in the founding years of the OPOA. He was editor of the OPOA newspaper. He had his heart and brains in both the OPOA and in the highest echelons of the Police Department. Oz has several major and new ideas that will likely be acceptable, do-able, effective and long overdue. These ideas should bridge the dispute between officers' benefits and citizens' needs. It will be up to the new Mayor to electrify the right attitude through the ranks, onto the streets, and into the homes and businesses. Attitude is only part of it. It will be up to the Chief and his Command Staff to run the Department with efficiency and effectiveness, instilling eagerness and a sharp professional Blue Line.
- Ron Oz doesn't like the inefficiencies inherent in a "4/10" Work Schedule; he said so when he wrote the original plan in 1969. He also wrote many other plans and made recommendations about canines, horses, helicopters, Beat deployment, crime analysis, and many more. He programmed computer systems when they were a new and strange tool. It's someone else's turn to write and deploy the plans now, but it's a new Mayor's turn to set the Mood and the Attitude. That new Mayor must have intimate knowledge, education, and experience in police work to stay out of it. Otherwise, Oakland will get the same old "fixing what ain't broke." Worse, Oakland could get a Mayor without Leadership or Management skills on top of not knowing anything about Police Science, who looks at "nuts and bolts" as things to be fixed with a sledge hammer and crow bar.
- Everyone knows that being on the verge of declaring a "State of Emergency" is an indication of a City Council locked in a dark room of demons without a clue what to do. Take police recruiting for example, and see it as another indication of spending millions of precious dollars on outside consultants who can only tell us what the citizens think we should know in the first place. Yes, only 18 out of 750 applicants become Oakland Police Officers. It doesn't have to be that way. We're fishing in too small a pond because our thinking is too small. There are over 5,000 Universities and Colleges in the United States who have graduated hundreds of thousands of bright, young, eager-for-a-challenge kids who are being ignored because we want to "hire locally." How about bringing a couple hundred of these smart kids who can't find jobs, or can't find them at half the salaries, and sign them up for five year contracts. That's just about the time a new Mayor can turn the attitude of this town around to something that will convert outsiders to long lasting Oakland citizens, and bring back many of the hundreds of thousands who have left Oakland. How about making some new permanent Oaklanders for a change?
- It's a terrible thing to "profile" anyone out of bigotry and ignorance. When the entire Oakland Police Department was profiled during the "Riders" trial, and when a resulting "contract" profiled every member of the Oakland Police Department as being corrupt and needing "reform," Ron Oz knew there was a monumental misunderstanding brought about by monolithic misperception. It is a rare citizen who regards all Oakland cops as being corrupt, brutal or racist. It is a rare cop who feels appreciated, acknowledged and properly regarded for his/her sacrifice, devotion to duty, and selfless efforts. The chasm created by outside monitors, an ardent Federal Judge, a few fee-based lawyers, and some activist groups, however well meaning they all might be, has split the Police Department into demoralization, de-policing, and ineffectiveness.
- The so-called NSA that seeks to reform the Department is not onerous, it isn't even debilitating, or at least it needn't be. Unfortunately, because of ignorance of the police organism, the NSA has become the tail to wag the dog. Police ignorance of the NSA has caused a defensive, cautious, and intimidated mindset. Every well-meaning wish in the NSA can be accomplished to the betterment of the Department by a Mayor with an eager attitude backed by a proper skills set. Policing the City is "Risk Management" as much as maintaining a healthy body free of cancer. There will be crime and crooks, and any organization (teachers, judges, nurses, etc) will have the occasional shock of an employee with deviant or aberrant behavior. But let's not turn sanity upside down by overzealously "Risk Managing" the Police Department at the expense of allowing criminal sickness to more freely scourge a city. Civil Rights, under the Constitution, means equal protection for everyone including the worst crook and the best cop.
- Ron Oz perceives Oakland as a family. The Mayor is the head of the family. The cops should be the big brothers and sisters in a Norman Rockwell setting of smiles, respect and admiration for the job and all affected by it. Hire the police applicant who shows an intelligent sense of humor and watch the community interface become multilaterally confident and supportive. Perceive police as Pit Bulls requiring muzzles and that's what you'll get. That's a good lesson for regarding and treating anyone.
In a recent count, Oakland's Police Department has 156 (21.4%) Black Officers, 126 (17.3%) Hispanic, 116 (15.9%) Asian, 3 American Indian and 328 White Officers. There are 86 (12%) female officers. The OPD family belongs to Oakland, serves Oakland, and loves Oakland. From the Chief to the Beat Officer, Sworn Officers and Professional Civilian Police staff, all are our finest, and can only be as good as we wish them to be while letting them be. That's a good rule in any family.