Press "Enter" to skip to content

Oakland targets deadly districts

City of Oakland and Oakland Police Department (OPD) representatives explained the 100-Block Strategy Plan to East Oakland residents and neighborhood watch leaders at a Jan 26 public safety meeting.

“100 blocks” refers to the 100 blocks in Oakland — five percent of the city — where 92 percent of the city’s murders occurred in the last five years. Havenscourt neighborhood, two miles from Mills College, has been identified as an area of concern, but Quan hasn’t actually named the 100 blocks specifically by name so as not to stigmatize them.

“The number of people getting killed and shot is not acceptable,” reads the 100-Block Strategy Plan’s executive summary. “… what happens in the 100 Blocks impacts all of us. It is the success of these communities that will define us and is the lens through which people see us.”

Quan revealed her plan to concentrate police and social services in those 100 blocks at a crime summit in October 2011, the San Francisco Chronicle report. But critics highlighted Quan’s lack of details and, with Occupy Oakland coming to a head that same month, the City had other things on its plate.

On Jan 17, Quan announced a 90-day push to reduce crime in the 100 blocks, the Oakland Tribune reported.

Allene Warren from the Block by Block Organizing Network (BBBON) had invited Reygan Harmon, Quan’s Public Safety Senior Policy Advisor, to present the 100-Block Strategy Plan to BBBON’s public safety committee. BBON is a not-for-profit civic association founded and led by Oakland residents dedicated to the betterment of the city.

The City of Oakland has already adopted crime-reduction strategies that were successful in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, according to Harmon.

The plan’s short-term goal is for enforcement and city services to work together and concentrate their efforts on the 100 blocks.

Captains Brian Medeiros and Ersie Joyner III spoke about OPD’s role in the 100-Block Strategy Plan, which includes violence suppression, undercover drug buysand prostitution stings.

“Besides enforcement,” Medeiros said, “we’re involved in other things like reading programs with the kids, mentoring, a gang intervention prevention class. We’re trying everything we can.”

City departments are also expected to concentrate on the 100 blocks, but in a different way.

“I told the head of library services, ‘I don’t expect you to catch a bullet in your teeth. I want you to do what you do, which is library services. But based on what you do, what can you do differently? How can you get more involved in the 100 blocks,” Harmon asked.

The aforementioned reading program, bringing together officers and young children in positive ways was, in fact, the idea of Library Services Director Carmen Martinez.

“This came from the idea of, ‘How can we improve library services and encourage reading in the 100 blocks?’” Harmon said. “So everybody has a role.”

The mid-termgoal is to build trust between the police and the community, particularly youth.

Medeiros said someone had the idea to distribute baseball cards, with one side depicting a current OPD officer and the other side depicting a local youth. Officers have also been taking youth to baseball games.

And the long-term goal is to revitalize the 100 blocks by providing meaningful community engagement opportunities and youth services like mentorship, summer employment and late night park programming.

“The school district had done a study some time ago,” Harmon said, “The school-aged kids that were being killed were killed Friday and Saturday nights between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.”

So last summer the City of Oakland began opening up recreation centers late at night to encourage youth participation. In West Oakland, for example, the Police Activity League ran late-night basketball.

The late-night programming at Willie Wilkins Park, about four miles from Mills College, was most successful. “We saw a 51 percent reduction in crime,” Harmon said.