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Mayor London Breed Announces Organized Retail Crime Initiative

Mayor London N. Breed unveiled details from San Francisco’s Organized Retail Crime Initiative, a new initiative led by the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) in partnership with local retailers and regional law enforcement agencies.

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Retail/ Photo Credit: Artificial Photography via Unsplash

Mayor London N. Breed unveiled details from San Francisco’s Organized Retail Crime Initiative, a new initiative led by the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) in partnership with local retailers and regional law enforcement agencies. The focus of the plan, announced on September 22, is to increase reporting, investigating, and solving of retail theft cases and the upstream criminal enterprises that fuel them.

The Plan has three main elements:

  • Expanding and reallocating police investigative resources
    • Increasing the SFPD Organized Retail Crime Unit from two to five investigators and adding one dedicated lieutenant to better investigate crimes locally and to work regionally with the California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force
  • Strategic restructuring of publicly and privately funded deployments
    • Dedicating SFPD personnel to ensure tightly coordinated field operations and communications with retail partners
    • Tripling the SFPD Community Ambassador program, which employs retired SFPD officers to patrol and serve as deterrence, and expanding geographic area served
    • Managing privately funded deployment of 10B officers to focus on deterrence
  • Public-private partnerships aimed at reporting, investigating and solving cases
    • Increase reporting of crimes through expansion of Teleserve Unit, which was implemented during COVID-19 pandemic to take reports without in-person contact

     “Retail theft and commercial burglaries are not victimless crimes,” said Breed. “They hurt working families due to reduced work hours, shuttered stores and lost jobs. They hurt customers and seniors who are losing convenient access to prescription medications and vaccinations because of pharmacy closures. 

     “They hurt neighborhoods suffering from fewer local retailers and more empty storefronts. The strategy we’re outlining today is an all-hands-on-deck approach that brings the full partnership of state and local law enforcement and retailers to bear to aggressively pursue, investigate and deter organized retail crime in San Francisco.”

“Mayor Breed directed us to develop a plan to maximize the impact of SFPD’s resources by strengthening our partnerships with retailers and law enforcement agencies, and leveraging our successes from such previously announced strategies as our Mid-Market Vibrancy and Safety Plan and Tourism Deployment Plan,” said Chief Bill Scott. “The result is our Organized Retail Crime Initiative, and we are incredibly grateful for the participation of local retailers whose partnerships are making this endeavor truly groundbreaking. This collaborative approach reflects the full promise of community policing — not solely to support our City’s economic recovery, but to better protect public safety that is too often endangered by retail theft crews and the sophisticated criminal enterprises funding them.”

Expanding and reallocating police and investigative resources

The initiative will expand SFPD’s Organized Retail Crime Unit from two to five full-duty sworn investigators under the command of a dedicated lieutenant. In addition to cases they investigate within their citywide purview, unit members will serve as full partners to the California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force, which Governor Gavin Newsom reauthorized on July 21, 2021.

Prior to its reauthorization after sunsetting earlier this year, CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force worked in close partnership with the San Francisco Police Department in operations that recovered millions of dollars in stolen merchandise and cash from criminal enterprises engaged in retail theft activities. One of those coordinated operations led to an $8 million seizure in partnership with the San Mateo Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 30, 2020, in which multiple law enforcement agencies recovered merchandise stolen from San Francisco Bay Area retailers.

Strategic restructuring of privately funded deployments, expanded patrols

The initiative calls for reallocating resources to SFPD’s Field Operations Bureau to focus on deterrence. This will include a newly assigned lieutenant to coordinate privately funded “10B” officers and a sergeant who will function as a dedicated retail theft coordinator. Initial allocations of police officers’ 10B time are expected to average more than 3,800 hours per two-week pay period, spanning at least 34 retail locations citywide. Additionally, SFPD’s Community Ambassador program will be more than tripled in size — from 8 to fully 25 ambassadors — and expanded to cover new areas beyond Union Square (where it is currently focused), including Yerba Buena/Moscone Center, Lower Market/Embarcadero, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

SFPD’s Community Ambassadors are unarmed civilians who patrol in high-visibility SFPD Community Ambassador windbreakers. Utilizing their wealth of law enforcement experience, these ambassadors observe and report issues and problem-solve within their assigned area in partnership with community stakeholders. Initially launched in November 2020 with eight retired SFPD officers as part of the Holiday Season “Safe Shopper” program, SFPD ambassadors have been instrumental in helping to solve several crimes to date, providing critical information that led to the arrest of suspects involved in several organized retail theft and robbery incidents.

Public-private partnerships aimed at reporting, investigating and solving cases

The San Francisco Police Department is dramatically expanding incident reporting capabilities for participating retailers under the Organized Retail Crime Initiative — initially through SFPD’s Teleserve Unit.

SFPD first implemented its Teleserve Unit last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to facilitate the intake of incident reports without the risks of in-person contacts. The system was upgraded in August 2021 to allow for reports of retail thefts to be prepared over the phone, a time- and cost-saving technique designed to encourage retailers to maximize their reporting of theft incidents. A planned upgrade to SFPD’s online reporting system from LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions will allow participating retailers to more easily report thefts via an online portal.

If successful in enabling retailers to maximize their reporting of retail crimes, a potentially dramatic increase in larceny and commercial burglary crime rates should be expected. However, more robust reporting and data aggregation will more effectively target the San Francisco Police Department’s deployment of police resources, while enabling SFPD investigators to more fully inform partner agencies within the California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force. By better facilitating information from incidents together with accompanying evidence, the initiative can help to solve retail theft cases and more effectively target the upstream criminal enterprises fueling them.

 

Bay Area

Oakland Healthcare Unions Denounce CDC and California’s New Guidelines

While federal and California state guidelines now allow healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19 to return to work without quarantining as long as they are asymptomatic until at least February 1, it’s unclear what this will mean for several Oakland healthcare facilities.

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Oakland Highland Hospital screening tent at the emergency entrance on July 5, 2021. Photo by Zack Haber.
Oakland Highland Hospital screening tent at the emergency entrance on July 5, 2021. Photo by Zack Haber.

By Zack Haber

Two unions representing healthcare professionals have denounced recent moves by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and The California Department of Public Health that have eased, or in some cases temporarily eliminated, quarantining guidelines for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been directly exposed to the virus.

“Part of why there’s this rise in transmission is that people aren’t quite well and they’re able to come out and mingle with the public,” said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez in an interview. Triunfo-Cortez has worked as a registered nurse for 42 years, and she’s the president of National Nurses United (NNU), a registered nurses’ union with over 175,000 members.

On December 22 of last year, as news that the CDC was considering shortening their COVID-19 quarantine duration guidelines from 10 days to five days was spreading, the NNU published an open letter to the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, that urged her to maintain the 10-day quarantine period.

“Weakening COVID-19 guidance now, in the face of what could be the most devastating COVID-19 surge yet,” the letter reads, “will only result in further transmission, illness and death.”

On December 23, the CDC changed their guidelines for healthcare workers. To address staffing shortages, the new guidelines stated that medical facilities could have both vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare workers who test positive for the virus return to their jobs immediately without quarantining in certain crisis situations as long as they were either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.

On December 27, the CDC changed their guidelines for the rest of the population, shortening the quarantining period from 10 to five days. The new guidelines stated that as long as a COVID-positive person has no symptoms or their symptoms are resolving and they don’t have a fever, they can end their quarantine on the sixth day.

“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of [COVID-19] transmission occurs early in the course of the illness,” reads a statement from the CDC about the reduced quarantine guideline, “generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and 2-3 days after.”

In their letter, the NNU pointed to the extremely contagious Omicron variant, and warned “Now is not the time to relax protections.” They mentioned pressure from businesses to maintain profits “without regard for science or the health of employees or the public” as the primary motivation for shortening the quarantine time. The letter included a link to a story about Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian asking the CDC to consider such a change.

Data from Alameda County, and California show that after the Omicron variant of COVID-19 began to become widespread in mid-December, local and statewide cases surged. By late December, average daily case rates were higher than they ever had been before.

Hospitalizations also rose sharply. Then cases and hospitalizations continued to rise through early January and have continued to rise. At the time of publication, information on recent COVID-19 deaths is unclear as the county and the state are updating that data.

“It’s stressful because some of our co-workers might be coming into work sick,” said Sonya Allen-Smith in an interview on January 7 about working under the new guidelines. She’s been an X-ray technologist at a Kaiser Permanente facility in Oakland for 13 years and is a member of the SEIU UHW union for healthcare workers.

“We think about if we’re going to take it home to our families,” she said. “My husband’s immune system is compromised. If I bring it home to him, he definitely will not make it.”

The Oakland Post obtained a flow chart Kaiser e-mailed to their employees on January 7 that guided them through the quarantine process the company required them to enter into if they tested positive for COVID-19.

It showed Kaiser employees had to quarantine for five days and could return on the sixth day if they tested negative for the virus with an antigen test. Allen-Smith said she felt the quarantine period was too short.

“We’re not giving people enough time to heal or recover,” Allen-Smith said. “Weakening the guidelines is not going to stop the staff shortage. It may increase it because people will spread it.”

In an e-mail, Kaiser Permanente’s media team wrote that they’re “implementing CDC and CDHP guidance and isolation with considerations to vaccination status and staffing levels.” It also stated that “all employees coming back or continuing to work, wear the appropriate PPE and follow all infection prevention measures.”

On January 8, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) decided to temporarily adopt the guidance for healthcare workers the CDC had released on December 23 to address staffing shortages at healthcare facilities.

“From January 8, 2022 until February 1, 2022, healthcare professionals who test positive for [COVID-19] and are asymptomatic,” reads their statement announcing the new guidelines, ”may return to work immediately without isolation and without testing.”

The statement also said such returning employees would have to wear N95 masks while working and that these new guidelines could again change as information becomes available.

Both the NNU and the SEIU-UHW unions immediately denounced CDHP’s decision.

“For healthcare workers on the frontline it is very disappointing to see the State of California bypass common sense safety measures,” said Gabe Montoya, an emergency room technician, in a statement SEIU-UHW released. “No patient wants to be cared for by someone who has COVID-19 or was just exposed to it.”

While federal and California state guidelines now allow healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19 to return to work without quarantining as long as they are asymptomatic until at least February 1, it’s unclear what this will mean for several Oakland healthcare facilities.

When asked for a statement about their Bay Area healthcare facilities, Sutter Health’s media team wrote an email stating: “Consistent with CDC contingency tiered guidelines released in late December, and in response to critical staffing conditions, we have revised our process for how employees who work at patient care sites return after they have been sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. It’s important to note that symptomatic employees are not returning to work until their symptoms improve.”

When asked directly if asymptomatic COVID positive employees were currently returning to work, Sutter Health’s media team did not respond.

When asked about their current COVID-19 quarantine policies, Alameda Health System’s media and communications manager Eleanor Ajala wrote “Alameda Health System is reviewing guidance” and that they planned to attend a meeting with the state to discuss the issue.

On January 11, Allen-Smith said she hadn’t heard of any change to Kaiser Permanente’s quarantine policy, but that she knows three co-workers sick with COVID-19 who had just returned after five-day quarantines.

In an e-mail, Kaiser Permanente’s media team wrote that to address staffing shortages they were “employing traveling nurses, adjusting elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures as needed, and offering our industry-leading telehealth capabilities in addition to in-person care.”

The media team did not directly answer when asked if Kaiser was allowing asymptomatic COVID positive employees to return to the job at Bay Area healthcare facilities.

Allen-Smith is unhappy about the guidelines changing and is unsure if Kaiser’s policy will further change in the near future due to CDHP’s recent announcement.

“A lot of us are confused and sad and just don’t feel safe in the workplace,” she said.

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Advice

Evangelical Technology: The New “E.T.”

In his book, “Branding Faith,” Phil Cooke wrote, “Whatever the purpose, the goal is to win the hearts and minds of the largest audience possible and imprint an indelible story around your church, ministry or mission.” In short Mr. Cooke is saying that how we tell our story and how our story looks, will determine the impact that we will have on a world in need of relevance.

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Curtis O. Robinson, Sr. is the senior pastor at the Faith Church in Oakland, CA. He is also managing director of Global Acquisitions at Nimbus Networks, LLC.
Curtis O. Robinson, Sr. is the senior pastor at the Faith Church in Oakland, CA. He is also managing director of Global Acquisitions at Nimbus Networks, LLC.

By Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., M.A., Resident fellow ’19 Harvard Divinity School

The year was 1982 and Steven Spielberg released the blockbuster movie of the century entitled, “E.T., The Extra Terrestrial.” The movie outgrossed Star Wars and in 1983 grossed more than $359 million in North America and $619 million worldwide. Spielberg was making an estimated $500,000 a day, and the rest was cinematic history.

With the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus, the strain and challenge of presenting a relevant Christ to a culture in need of spiritual balance has been demanding. For the most part, houses of worship have had to close their doors. However, a few have been strategic enough to weather the storm with minimal attendance for in-house worship. So, it is still a daunting task to continue to get the Word of God to a culture desperately in need of spiritual enrichment.

In his book, “Branding Faith,” Phil Cooke wrote, “Whatever the purpose, the goal is to win the hearts and minds of the largest audience possible and imprint an indelible story around your church, ministry or mission.” In short Mr. Cooke is saying that how we tell our story and how our story looks, will determine the impact that we will have on a world in need of relevance.

Enter Nimbus Networks, LLC. Nimbus Networks is a certified solutions provider that creates tailored communications plans for you in collaboration with the world’s leading telecom providers.

We work with over 220 vetted worldwide carriers as a full-service technology consultant, and we have engineers who can help you design, deploy, and maintain your environment. Because no two organizations are the same, we tailor our Cloud, Voice, IT, and other technology services to match your unique requirements.

This is the first in a series of articles that will talk about the importance of having a reliable and robust IT platform. And for churches, we must still engage the world for Christ. It is important that our ET platform is effective and inviting. Stay tuned.

For more information concerning your IT or ET needs, you can reach him at crobinson@nimbusnet.net. You can also visit our website at nimbus-networks.com or you can call 925-285-8357 for a free consultation.

Curtis O. Robinson, Sr. is the senior pastor at the Faith Church in Oakland, CA. He is also managing director of Global Acquisitions at Nimbus Networks, LLC.

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Activism

El Cerrito Hosts 33rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Rally

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

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“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.
“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

By Clifford L. Williams

The City of El Cerrito invites all of its residents and surrounding cities in the Bay Area to join in its 33rd Annual Community Celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

“Keeping the Dream Alive – Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

Event chairperson, Patricia Durham said “this peaceful protest began in 1989 on the back streets of El Cerrito because of the City’s refusal to acknowledge King’s birthday as a federal holiday.

“Members of St. Peter Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), the City’s only African-American church, and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, in true Dr. King style, took to the streets. The City eventually came around and acknowledged the peaceful and powerful works of Dr. King.”

Durham added, “El Cerrito’s birthday celebration of MLK is one of the longest-standing parades and rallies in the Bay Area.”

Because of the global pandemic, this is the second year the city will have a car parade because of COVID-19 protocols. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station (in the parking lot of Key Boulevard & Knott Avenue). At 10 a.m., the parade will caravan down San Pablo Avenue to the El Cerrito Plaza BART station and at 11 a.m., the rally will begin. To ensure everyone enjoys the parade safely, all CDC guidelines will be enforced. Masks and social distancing are required.

“Keeping the dream alive even during a pandemic is a necessity,” said Durham. “We are fighting for our democracy and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s taught us that we need each other to embrace our new normals of survival.”

“The City is expecting more than 100 cars, so we encourage everyone to decorate your vehicles so that yours stands out the best,” noted Durham. “Entertainment will be provided by the Japanese American Citizen League, The Black Cowboy Association, Ujima Lodge #35, the Mardi Gras Gumbo Band, Mighty High Drill Team, Smooth Illusions Band, and El Cerrito’s Poet Laureate, Ms. Eevelyn Janean Mitchell, among other talents.”

The MC of this illustrious event will be Jeffery Wright, president of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce. The event’s keynote speaker is Diana Becton, the first female African American to be elected District Attorney in the history of Contra Costa County.

For more information, contact Patricia Durham at (510) 234-2518.

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