At a Monday morning press conference, 12 community activists from anti-violence, religious and crime prevention groups backed Council Member and mayoral candidate Jean Quan in promoting Measure BB, a public safety measure that will appear on the November city ballot.
If passed by voters, Measure BB would bring back the 63 neighborhood officers responsible for crime prevention on the Oakland police force and continue to support some 60 anti-violence programs previously funded via Measure Y.
“Measure BB will restore problem solving officers to our neighborhoods with no additional taxpayer funds and prevent more police cuts,” said Quan.
Quan co-authored Measure Y in 2004, and voters passed it that year. Under Measure Y, the city receives $19 million a year for ten years to fund violence prevention programs and problem solving officers. Forty percent of Measure Y funding is dedicated to programs and services that address violence. Current programs focus on serving at-risk youth, victims of domestic violence or child abuse, and ex-offenders in need of job skills and placements.
But, the city may only receive Measure Y funds if it employs at least 803 police officers. In July, the city laid off 80 police officers, and now falls short of that number by 64 officers, meaning that the city cannot continue to receive Measure Y funds unless voters pass an amendment to it.
Under Measure BB, the City of Oakland would be permitted to continue collecting Measure Y taxes without police staffing or budget appropriation requirements.
“Measure Y has been successful in reducing crime by at least 40 percent over the last three years,” Quan said. “We didn’t anticipate that the nation’s economic downturn would require Oakland to make such drastic cuts to its budget.”
The community organizers who appeared with Quan testified to the impact that Measure Y has had on their programs. “Measure Y is the only stable funding we have,” said Cherri Allison, executive director of the Family Violence Law Center, who spoke at the morning press conference. After the police have been asked to intervene, Allison and her team of counselors offer victims of domestic violence support and assistance, such as mental health, legal assistance and housing.
Allison said that support from Measure Y funds has encouraged more domestic violence survivors to seek services. “The number of women calling have increased,” Allison said, “but the number of women hurt has gone down.”
An alternative measure on the November ballot, Measure X, would institute a $360 per single family parcel tax that would be used to improve public safety and fund violence prevention programs.
Oakland residents will vote on both initiatives on Tuesday, November 2.