Monday, June 11, 2012

Oakland's Dismal Performance on Crime Response and Transparency Continues

On April 24, I submitted a public records request for documents related to the Police Department's response times for emergency and non-emergency calls, and how those response times have changed in response to recommendations made in a 2010 "Strategic Plan." On June 5, well over a month later, and a month after the 10-day deadline to respond under the Public Records Act, I received a response. Notably, the response indicated that OPD still had not even commenced its search for records related to the "recommendations" to improve response times, so I'm not holding my breath on receiving those additional documents any time soon. Also, the documents only related to dispatch response times; no documents were provided regarding actual police response times. Grade for transparency and compliance with Public Records Act: F.

The records themselves reveal that OPD has nothing to be proud about in terms of its response times. Every month, OPD creates an "activity report" that shows how many "priority 1" calls were dispatched within 1 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes. They do the same for Priority 2 and Priority 3 calls. Here's a comparison for January 2011 to January 2012:

January 2011 1 minute: 33.32
5 minutes: 69.72
10 minutes: 80.69
15 minutes: 83.43
30 minutes: 86.81
60 minutes 88.89

January 2012
1 minute: 27.50
5 minutes: 62.76
10 minutes: 74,80
15 minutes: 78.74
30 minutes: 83.32
60 minutes: 86.57

For the most part, a review of the reports reveals that OPD's dispatch times have been steadily worsening with each passing month. (Although there are a few anomalies where the dispatch times were particularly abysmal, e.g. May, 2011, where only 47% of the Priority 1 calls were responded to within 5 minutes.) For priority 2 and 3 calls (i.e. non-emergency calls) get this: in January, 2011, only 58% of Priority 2 calls had been dispatched within 58 minutes; only 39% of the Priority 3 calls had been dispatched in 60 minutes. In January, 2012, those numbers dropped to 47% and 28% respectively. Pathetic. Dramatically worse than one year ago. Grade: F


  1. Interesting research Marleen. My impression over the past couple of years is that response times came down under Tony Batts. I think this was one of his main service goals. But with Quan, we've had this "100 Blocks" thingy (evidently also a mystery to Chief Jordan!) and I guess it's taken us back to the good old days! Your work is appreciated!

  2. Marleen,

    Let's be clear. Police respond to crimes, they do not prevent them. Extensive research shows that unless you get to a call for assistance within 3 minuets it has no impact on preventing crime. And to increase the number of Police needed to respond to calls for assistance within 3 minuets to PREVENT crimes would bankrupt any city. It is not cost effective. So, why are the citizens of Oakland constantly demanding rapid response to 911 as a strategy to reduce crime?

  3. I'm not sure where you are getting your statistics from, i.e. the three minute rule. I'd say it takes more than three minutes to burglarize a house, for example. If the police could respond in between 5 and 10 minutes it would dramatically increase the number of times burglars are caught in the act. The arrests would lead to convictions which would take criminals off the street, thus reducing crime. In addition, the rapid response would serve as a deterrent, also preventing crime. The reverse is also true: the fact that burglars know that police are slow to respond has definitely caused crime to go up.

  4. Molly, Oakland is already bankrupt fiscally.

    That's why "we" just borrowed another $250,000,000.00 from Wall Street banks at high rates (thank Jane Brunner/Rebecca Kaplan for that) to keep funding ancient pension funds. (Pensions = paying near full time salaries and medical/dental/vision health insurance for retired Oakland city employees and their families, for life. We should all be so lucky.)

    That's why city hall keeps increasing parking ticket fines.

    That's why city hall politicians keep putting extra property tax measures on the ballot - more money for city employee union members and politically connected non-profits with no-bid contracts (Halliburton style) like Ella Baker Center and Youth Uprising and mad elevated executive director salaries of 180k or 250k per year -- NOT for services.

    These tax measures also compete with OUSD school bonds and tax measures - things we should pay extra for.

    We are paying a lot for Oakland city services, and not getting much service. 75% of our budget goes to police and fire staffing. Is it showing?

    Increasing the # of police needed to start preventing crime will not bankrupt the city once we negotiate union compensation packages down city-wide. We CAN and WILL get quality police for 75k salaries instead of the current 100k salaries, 100k benefits.

    This is NOT to single out police, since Oakland firefighters have a much easier job, make the same pay, and sit on their butts most of the time, and everyone loves them.

    Not to mention, every other Oakland city employee out there.

    Oakland city employees get gold-plated pay packages.

    Great for them, terrible for residents and businesses.

    200K: cost to hire new cop/firefighter in Oakland.

    Cost to hire 200 extra of either: $40,000,000 per year.

    Cost to hire 400 extra: $80,000,000

    Cost to pay for Oakland city employee pensions per Mayor Quan's latest budget report - $2,500 million. (2.5 billion!)

    Raising parking tickets to $300 each, or levying an extra $2,000 on property owners/title holders, will not save us from city hall's spendy ways.

    What we need is to open up ALL city contracts for review and immediate downward adjustment.

    We owe city employees an apology for building up high expectations for lavish lifestyles that our politicians provided them (which we could never afford before, and definitely cannot now) ...

    We do NOT owe city employees our CITY!

    Once city government salaries, benefits and pensions are more in line with private industry we can hire oodles more police/fire and tree/park/street maintenance staff AND make Oakland a safe and nurturing environment for great schools, low violent crime, walking and biking everywhere, starting new businesses, etc.


    Ken Ott
    Campaign Manager
    Len Raphael for City Council