Four officers investigated for an illegal search in 2017 argued they have a right to see civilian investigator's notes and records before sitting down for an interview. Credit: Darwin BondGraham

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Last summer, the Oakland City Council created a task force to recommend ways to cut police spending and create non-police programs to increase public safety.

The Reimagining Public Safety Task Force, whose 17 members were appointed by the council, mayor, and other city commissions, recently made its draft recommendations available to the public. The task force had been meeting since September.

The task force made over 100 recommendations in total. Some of the main proposals include:

  • Moving most traffic enforcement out of the police department to the transportation department
  • Creating a city behavioral health unit to handle mental health emergencies without the police
  • Removing special event duties like overseeing parades or festivals from OPD and using other city staff
  • Getting rid of, or reducing use of police helicopters
  • Moving internal affairs (the unit that investigates police misconduct) entirely out of the police department

Oaklanders now have an opportunity to weigh in on which recommendations the council should approve. Anyone who wants to can attend the task force’s final community listening session on Tuesday, March 9 at 6 p.m. on Zoom. The task force is also accepting feedback via email (OaklandRPSTF@policylink.org), and by phone at (510) 663-4399.

“Just as Oakland residents have the burden of experiencing the day to day inequities in our public safety system they also have the opportunity to exercise their power by lending their unique outlook in this historic task of reimagining public safety in our beloved city,” Mariano Contreras, a member of the task force told The Oaklandside. “Thoughtful street level questions and feedback can help ground the Task Force moving forward.”

If you’re curious to see what feedback the task force has received so far, you can view all the emails, voicemails, and comments submitted by Oaklanders here.

The task force will vote on its final recommendations on March 10 and March 17 and Oaklanders can give more input at the start of those meetings also. The task force’s final list will then be sent to the City Council, which will take up the proposals on April 13 at their Public Safety Committee meeting. The full City Council will consider the recommendations on April 20 as part of the new two-year budget, which will be passed before June 30.

“Oakland has an opportunity to thoughtfully and pragmatically lead the nation in increasing safety by addressing the root causes of harm and violence,” said Anand Subramanian, a managing director of PolicyLink who has worked as one of the task force’s co-facilitators. “So anyone who cares deeply about this issue is encouraged to participate.”

Before joining The Oaklandside as News Editor, Darwin BondGraham worked with The Appeal, where he was an investigative reporter covering police and prosecutorial misconduct. He has reported on gun violence for The Guardian, and was an enterprise reporter for the East Bay Express. BondGraham's work has also appeared with KQED, ProPublica and other leading national and local outlets. He holds a doctorate in sociology from UC Santa Barbara and was the co-recipient of the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2017.