Council Prioritizes Recommendations to Reimagine Public Safety in City Budget

On May 3, 2021, at a Special City Council meeting, Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution authored by Councilmember Carroll Fife and co-sponsored by Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas to prioritize a subset of recommendations from Oakland’s Reimagining Public Safety Task Force (RPSTF) for Council to consider integrating in the city’s FY 2021-23 budget to be adopted by June 30, 2021. 

The prioritized recommendations include significant expansion of citywide services and supports for trauma-informed mental health response, civilian traffic enforcement, violence interruption, gender-based violence response, restorative justice, youth programming, and housing solutions. These proactive measures will help reduce violence while allowing OPD to focus time on violent crime. 

Together, the prioritized recommendations aim to:

  1. Reduce situations that could lead to escalation and police violence, 
  2. Provide the most appropriate response to service calls, allowing officers to spend more time focused on violent crime, and 
  3. Address the root causes of violence and poverty.

 

This resolution reflects the culmination of many years of work and intense organizing since June 2020 -- spurred by the groundswell of activism around the televised murder of George Floyd and decades of organizing to hold local law enforcement accountable for the deaths of Bay Area community members. The recommendations are the result of countless volunteer hours of Oakland’s Reimagining Public Safety Task Force and Advisory Boards which included over 100 volunteers and community organizations who engaged many Oakland residents. The Task Force, co-chaired by Council President Bas, was charged with providing recommendations to Council to shift resources from enforcement and punishment towards wellness and addressing root causes. The Task Force delivered its final recommendations to Council in April.

“A holistic understanding of what it means to be safe — having housing one can afford, high-quality childcare, well-resourced public schools, good-paying jobs, health care for all, and more — is essential for people-centered alternatives to the punitive carceral state,” said Councimember Carroll Fife, District 3, Public Safety Committee Chair and resolution author. “A bold financial commitment is also necessary to achieve these conditions of safety, and I urge Oaklanders in the coming weeks to advocate for these recommendations in the city budget process. The people’s power and participation have been critical to reaching this milestone. We must continue to deepen our engagement and solidarity to win a just recovery for and with our most marginalized neighbors and loved ones.”

“Thank you to the hundreds of Oaklanders who participated in the work of reimagining public safety,” said Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, District 2, Reimagining Public Safety Co-Chair. “These recommendations will help ensure Oakland is a leader in re-creating our safety system towards violence prevention and wellness, and to save lives and make our communities safer. I’m looking forward to working with Oaklanders to make sure our new two-year budget includes these investments, to secure resources from other government and private partners and to support a second phase of reimagining to implement these recommendations and continue creating structural change for safety.”

Status of Developing Oakland’s 2-Year Budget

Saturday, May 1, 2021 was the legal deadline for the Oakland Mayor and Administrator to publish their proposed biennial budget. In a brief email to City Councilmembers on Friday, April 30, Mayor Libby Schaaf stated they “need a little more time. We intend to publish the proposed budget in the Council packet on May 7, in time for it to still be presented at your special City Council meeting of May 10th.” 

The City Council President, on behalf of the City Council, then prepares a proposed budget for Council consideration. This budget proposal will be heard on June 17 — following public budget town halls in each of Oakland’s seven districts, including on May 12 in District 2. The Council must approve a balanced budget by June 30.


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  • Nikki Fortunato Bas, Council President