Community Police Advisory Board Wants to Be Relevant
It's the start of a new era for Oakland's Community Police Advisory Board - at least that's what newly-appointed chair Marcus Johnson said he believes.
Since the board wrapped up writing its annual report - where frustration with City Hall and OPD spills heavily from the 12-page document - Johnson said that the board is changing its strategy.
"What we're doing should cause pause and you'll want to pay attention to what we are saying," Johnson said.
Reaching out to OPD, and community partners, Johnson said that when it comes to Oakland's public safety, CPAB want to become relevant.
"This board has to become relevant to our partners and the community," Johnson said. "It's extremely important."
That process of change began early this spring, when, after having previously served as a board member, he was elected as chair, Johnson said.
On Tuesday, a City Council subcommittee will take up discussion on the 2011 annual report of the CPAB, which charges that council, OPD and City Hall does not invite them to the public safety table.
Johnson said that the board is beginning to channel its long-held frustration into action. Specifically, CPAB wants to play a bigger role in helping OPD and city administration in developing policies and reports as they connect to community policing.
"From day one I've always sought CPAB to be both relevant and a partner with the city," he said.
Members from CPAB have begun meeting with Oakland police officials on how the board can play a greater role in public safety initiatives around community policing, Johnson said.
The CPAB chair also said that the board isn't the only Oakland city body frustrated with City Hall. Oakland has more than 40 boards and commissions staffed by volunteers from the community. According to Johnson, many say they feel undervalued.
"What I've heard through the years, from other boards and commissions is, 'why aren't you (city hall) listening to me?'"
Johnson said that it's important for CPAB to take a leadership role in community policing.
"I don't want to plead with someone to hear me if my message has no value to them," he said.
The 2011 report from CPAB documents the ups and downs of community policing in Oakland.
"At a strategic level, the CPAB continues to struggle with being recognized as the City’s Advisory for community policing." the report notes early on. "There is concern by both members of the board and the community that are invested in the oversight of community policing, that the city does not properly engage the CPAB when decisions are being made or strategies are being considered for the implementation of community policing."
In addition, CPAB said that community policing in Oakland took a hit when the city began having budget problem.
"In light of continued cuts in city services and staff, the CPAB continues to see a minimal presence by key players in community policing at the CPAB meetings including the Mayor’s office, the Chief of Police (or equivalent heads), the City Manager and regular involvement by the Public Safety Committee."
CPAB said that there were positive developments last year, noting the passing of Measure BB and the redeployment of the problem solving officers.
"There are citizens of Oakland who continue to support the goals of community policing and seek to better understand the role it can play in their own neighborhood," the report goes.
But department reshuffling and budget constraints added to public safety challenges.
"Continual disruptions as OPD staff is shifted around to help stem the growing violence in Oakland. This takes away from some of the key directives set forth by the (city's) resolution and ultimately hurts the citizens of Oakland at the very core level – their neighborhoods," CPAB said in its report. "The city needs to focus on building long-term community policing strategies that could ultimately change the face of Oakland’s public safety."
Exactly how CPAB will be able to grab the attention of OPD and city hall during a time of federal police oversight and ongoing investigations into police actions, will be a huge challenge. Johnson said that he believes CPAB is up to the challenge.
Source: Oakland Local [http://m.oaklandlocal.com/article/710-community-police-advisory-board-chair-wants-see-change]