After three plus years of Covid-mandated Zoom meetings, the Grand Lake Neighbors Crime Prevention Council’s meeting on May 17 was held in-person and hosted by Pastor Jim Hopkins in Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church’s Sanctuary. At the request of Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, the agenda was focused exclusively on crime issues —prompted by three separate assaults in Crocker Highlands, including one in which a 15-month-old child in a stroller was struck with shrapnel when a gun was fired.
The standing room-only crowd had a lot in common with an equally large and passionate turnout at LABC in 2004 to protest a proposed McDonald’s drive-in on Lake Park Avenue. The speakers were just as riveting, and everyone including our council member and Planning Department Director agreed that something had to be done to stop local crime. The difference is that, in the McDonald’s case, an obscure clause in the zoning ordinance gave the city the “excuse” they needed to block the McDonald’s proposal. As OPD Deputy Chief James Beere explained at length on Wednesday, there are no easy solutions, but OPD is doing its best to rein in the primarily young people who are responsible — a majority of whom seem to be coming from outside Oakland. He also talked about long-term solutions that would require better communications between OPD and other neighboring departments, community members, and private security services. He also referenced a need for reforms in the justice system to eliminate the revolving door that allows offenders to be arrested and then let back on the streets shortly thereafter. It’s important to note that he insisted that OPD is not about to engage in racial profiling. They’re not going to be randomly stopping vehicles with tinted windows — nor are they going to be frisking young people wearing hoodies. They are going to up traffic enforcement, since people speeding and running red lights are more likely to be guilty of criminal activity. The above summary barely scratches the surface of what was said during a heated, nearly 2-hour meeting, but the immediate result has been a very heavy police presence on Lakeshore ever since.
In a follow-up email on May 21, Council President Bas linked to ABC News report on the meeting and also listed action steps that are being implemented:
Patrols: OPD has expanded their patrols on the Lakeshore and Grand business corridors to include traffic enforcement and walking units. They have additional patrols in the residential neighborhoods of Trestle Glen, Lakeshore, and Governors Place due to community complaints and increased crime incidents. OPD is also partnering with Piedmont PD for staggered patrols on Lakeshore, Trestle Glen, and surrounding areas. Undercover officers are conducting surveillance on the main routes and freeway access points feeding into the neighborhood. Community Policing Officers have been directed to conduct high-visibility patrols and are coordinating the deployment of traffic enforcement units. Bas’s office has ongoing communication with OPD to share neighbors’ concerns and requests.
Investigations: On May 16th, OPD arrested five individuals (three adults and two juveniles) suspected of being connected to a series of at least 10 armed robberies citywide. OPD continues to investigate the recent crimes. Anyone with information is asked to contact the OPD Criminal Investigations Division at (510) 238-3426 or (510) 238-3326.
OPD/Private Security Coordination: OPD has already exchanged information with Intervention Agency, the private patrol for Lakeshore Homes Association, to link their security patrols with OPD patrols.
Cameras: Bas’s office has connected OPD, Lakeshore Homes Association, and some neighbors interested in cameras. Many business districts and some neighborhoods use Flock (https://www.flocksafety.com). Some communities use hi-definition cameras and ALPR (automatic License Plate Readers (https://www.een.com/lpr). Some communities combine both technologies. If the camera(s) are placed on public property or use public funds, they must comply with Oakland’s privacy policies. Some neighbors are coordinating this project. If they request placement on public property, Bas’s office can help this effort move through the appropriate city administrative processes.
Traffic calming/speed bumps: Bas’s office is working with OakDOT to determine if speed bumps are allowable along Trestle Glen to help deter speeding and safety concerns. Once we determine where speed bumps are allowed based on the existing criteria, a group of neighbors are ready to help with the petition process.
Coincidentally, also on the 21st, OPD announced that they had arrested nine robbery suspects ranging in age from twelve to seventeen.
For the time being, everyone should be making a concerted effort to be more aware of their surroundings and lessen the likelihood of being assaulted by taking common-sense measures, such as not carrying a purse, talking on a cell phone while walking, or leaving items visible in a car or in the case of electronic devices, stashed in the trunk with bluetooth on. Long-term, we’re convinced that a walking beat officer assigned to Grand and Lakeshore Avenues, combined with a Community Resource Officer would make a huge difference. Please stay tuned for a petition to that effect that David Flack and Eric Hughes are working on. Once it’s online, it will be shared on the Grand Lake Neighbors and Splash Pad Facebook pages and other outlets as well. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your comments posted below.