Last week the Oakland City Council passed two resolutions introduced by Council President Rebecca Kaplan. The Oakland Police Department is now asked to prioritize gun violence by tracing and shutting down sources of illegal guns, and no longer participate in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The City of Oakland has experienced an uptick in violent crimes, OPD’s time and resources should always be used in alignment with Oakland values and preservation of public safety. OPD is to prioritize decreasing the number of illegal guns on the streets of Oakland and gun violence in the City by effective means such as increasing gun-tracing and improving ShotSpotter response time level of service in the City of Oakland.
According to an OPD report, “the Firearms Unit has suffered long-standing vacancies and currently has two Criminalist II vacancies in the face of a 40% increases in violent gun crime since March 2020; these vacancies translate into vastly increased firearm caseloads for the Crime Lab…as well as per criminalist.”
Council President Kaplan’s resolution asks OPD to now unfreeze the previously budgeted positions.
Kaplan states, “The overwhelming majority of gun crime is committed with guns acquired illegally. Illegal gun dealing is putting all of our community at risk, and there is extensive concern that gun crimes are not receiving high enough priority response, I thank my colleagues for supporting our community in making Gun Violence a top priority for the City of Oakland.”
Given the need to prioritize shutting down illegal gun dealing and gun violence, it is also important that OPD not waste time or undermine community credibility by participating with a Federal agency with a history of racial profiling and religious discrimination. The JFFT has come under scrutiny for racial profiling of Muslim, South Asian, Immigrant, and African American communities, and questionable surveillance tactics. The City Council made a strong statement that the questionable tactics of the Trump DOJ would not be enabled by the City of Oakland.
Brian Hofer, Chair, Privacy Advisory Commission, states: “Allowing surveillance without any suspicion of wrongdoing, demographic mapping by race, religion, and country of origin, and civil asset forfeiture are not Oakland values. President Kaplan and the Oakland City Council made it clear that we are not endorsing the human rights violations occurring across the country under the guise of fighting terrorism.”
Sameena Usman, government relations coordinator, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, SF Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA), states: “Oakland’s City Council voted to protect our communities from harmful federal law enforcement practices of profiling, surveillance, and targeting of vulnerable groups. We must continue to uphold our city’s values and build a stronger community.”