The Oakland City Council voted this week to establish a Department of Violence Prevention (DVP) as hundreds of Oaklanders came to City Hall to support the ordinance authored by President Larry Reid and Councilmembers Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Rebecca Kaplan.
The passage of the ordinance means that the city will soon hire a Chief of Violence Prevention, who will be at the same level as the Chiefs of Police and Fire in the City’s decision-making structure.
Advocates for the new department believe that an empowered, executive-level leader is the next step in making real the city’s commitment to a public health approach as an effective solution to reducing homicides, domestic violence and the sexual exploitation of children.
“I have been in office for 20 years fighting for public safety for this city,” said Reid. “This legislation gives me a renewed sense of hope that we will stop accepting the violence in our community as ‘normal.’
“I thank my colleagues for taking this bold step to truly make Oakland safe and loving for everyone,” he said.
In establishing the department, the council has set an aspirational goal to realize an 80 percent reduction in homicides and at least an 80 percent clearance rate for homicides within the next three years.
Richmond had realized a 71 percent reduction after adopting a similar initiative, according to supporters. The new department will also establish a victims’ support unit to combat sex trafficking and domestic violence and help families with cold case advocacy.
“When Oaklanders generously passed the Measure Z Safety and Services tax in 2014, they entrusted the City with $25 million per year to reduce violence on the condition that we would give equal weight to policing and violence prevention,” said Councilmember McElhaney.
“(This week) we took a major step forward in fulfilling that promise to the voters,” she added.