There are probably few people who aren't aware of just how much the city of Oakland, California is struggling with crime. Things have gotten so bad between Oakland PD and the community that the department is being overseen by a federal judge.
There were a couple of stories worth looking at regarding some recent developments in this story. The first, from the San Jose Mercury News quotes former NYPD and LAPD Chief Bill Bratton, who was hired as a consultant for Oakland PD, as saying the crime fight in Oakland is "winnable". The story also quotes Bratton as saying he was recommending Oakland PD embrace crime mapping and a more data driven approach to identifying crime problems.
Then, there was another story at The San Francisco Chronicle that quotes former Houston Police Chief Robert Wasserman, who is also consulting with Oakland PD, that the key to solving the problem involves improving community trust in their police.
Lastly, there was a story over at The New York Times that outlined part of the overall strategy for Oakland PD that included this bit:
But equally important will be the captain’s focus on community policing. In a smaller area, the theory goes, the captain will be able to reach out to more community leaders in a city with a long, troubled history between its police and residents, especially in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
“The police cannot do it by themselves,” said Capt. Steven Tull, the commander of one of the first two districts scheduled to be created on March 16, speaking at a station in a high-crime area of East Oakland. “The community must really be engaged because sometimes the community might have solutions, they might have ideas and we need to respect that.”
A police department partnering with the community to solve crime problems is so central to having an effective crime fighting strategy that I am always surprised when departments let this relationship fall apart. However, I am not surprised that when police/community relations do fall apart that eventually the situation spirals out of control if not corrected.
What is your agency doing to build a working relationship with the public you serve?