East Bay Public Safety Corridor Partnership -- Oakland, CA
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Serious violence among youth gangs in Richmond, CA, during the summer of 1993 precipitated the formation of what was initially a three-city collaborative involving the mayors, administration, and police of Richmond, Oakland, and Berkeley -- the East Bay Public Safety Corridor Partnership (EBPSCP). These three cities were experiencing high rates of homicides (214murders in 1993 and 200 in 1994). Initial funding for this collaborative effort came from the National Funding Collaborative on Violence Prevention, which awarded planning grants to community foundations to develop local collaboratives for violence prevention.
During 1994, as crime and violence continued to escalate, the collaborative grew as new cities were added within Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. By the end of 1995, the collaborative included 16 jurisdictions. An independent nonprofit organization, the East Bay Community Foundation, was selected as the facilitator and fiscal agent. The governing board, the Corridor Council, includes three city mayors, three police chiefs, three school superintendents, three city managers, two elected supervisors, two county administrators, two county school superintendents, youth members, and several members of the community at large. A comprehensive needs assessment was completed in 1996, detailing patterns of crime, social conditions, and resources across the corridor's cities.
Youth Violence Prevention Work Plan
A 12-point Youth Violence Prevention Work Plan was finalized in October 1996, although many of the strategies were initiated earlier. Strategy areas identified in the work plan follow.
Municipal gun ordinances
Participating jurisdictions have worked to enact community-friendly gun ordinances that ban the sale and manufacture of junk guns, require triggerlocks at the point of sale, limit the number of gun dealers (particularly those in home-based businesses), require background checks on gun dealers, and impose a gross receipts tax on retailers that sell guns. To date, junk gun bans have been passed by all 16 towns within the EBPSCP, plus 5 neighboring jurisdictions and the 2 counties. In all, 48 local gun ordinances have been adopted by partnership members and other localities.
EBPSCP has provided considerable resources to localities trying to pass these gun laws, including free legal assistance and representation. In addition to retaining a lawyer, the partnership has access to pro bono legal services to help any jurisdiction respond to lawsuits against proposed gun legislation. EBPSCP also provides sample legislation on request and has hosted workshops on the issue. Additional information on EBPSCP's efforts to pass local ordinances restricting firearm sales can be found in profile 16.
The gun abatement strategy aims to reduce the illegal accessibility of guns through gun suppression efforts in corridor cities. Activities include technical support for police departments to fully adopt community policing practices, gun buyback programs, and a domestic violence protocol for law enforcement (adopted by 23 law enforcement agencies in the corridor).
In addition, in 1996 the Richmond Police Department implemented the Neighborhood Gun Suppression Program. This program was designed to encourage citizens to report anonymously on illegal gun activity and provide information about illegal guns by calling a Silent Witness Hotline. If the information results in an arrest and seizure of weapons, the citizen providing the information is eligible for a $100 reward. A total of $4,000 has been paid as of September 1998. In one celebrated case, citizen information led to the arrest of suspects lying on the roof of a school with high-powered weapons. Brochures and public service announcements help publicize the hotline number. Because of the success of this program, a similar hotline recently was established in Oakland as part of the East Oakland Partnership to Reduce Juvenile Gun Violence. EBPSCP is working with this OJJDP-funded program to reduce youth's access to guns, address the reasons why youth possess and carry guns, and reduce the level of juvenile gun-related violence in the community.
EBPSCP also is developing a computerized information system that will centralize law enforcement data from police departments throughout the Corridor. Known as CopNET, this system will provide timely and accurate information about perpetrators, vehicles, and crimes to officers in the field from multiple jurisdictions. This system is expected to be online in 1999.
Richmond police also learned that children and youth were frequently threatened or victimized on their way to and from school. In response, a Safe Passage Program was implemented in 1996 in selected neighborhoods in Richmond. The program coordinated the efforts of police and community residents to establish "safe havens," houses where children can go if they feel threatened; to train community residents and community centers on how to help children seek refuge from the streets; and to deploy more police on foot, on bicycles, and in squad cars around schools in the morning and afterschool hours. This program is being replicated in Oakland in coordination with the East Oakland juvenile gun violence reduction partnership. As a member of the partnership's Steering Committee, EBPSCP participates in the development and implementation of strategies that focus on suppression, intervention, and prevention of firearm violence among high-risk juveniles in East Oakland.
EBPSCP has supported two programs to develop and implement model programs for conflict resolution: the Youth Together Program and the Communities and Schools Program. Youth Together seeks to reduce and prevent racially related violence among students in five high schools by developing multicultural teams to prevent cross-cultural conflicts. Teams engage in several structured activities together, including classroom activities to educate peers about conflict resolution, ethnic studies, and violence prevention; mentoring junior high students; and field trips to places that demonstrate the consequences of violence. The Communities and Schools Program provides a comprehensive case management and conflict resolution training program for students involved in conflict. The program is housed at Richmond High School and involves many interagency partners.
Domestic violence protocol
A domestic violence protocol has been developed based on research showing that the cycle of domestic violence is perpetuated when children see violence as an acceptable means of resolving family conflicts. In addition, domestic violence creates high-risk conditions for gun violence. Under California State law, police called to the scene of a domestic altercation are authorized to seize any firearm for up to 72 hours if they believe that its presence in the household represents a threat to safety; this protocol assists police in making that determination. The guns are stored at the police station and may be retrieved by the owner once the domestic situation has been stabilized. Police may also destroy the gun under the auspices of a State gun nuisance law. In addition, police at the scene of a domestic dispute can use digital mobile units to determine whether are straining order is on file and, if one is, take the individual into custody for the protection of both parties.
Aftercare education/employment/mentorship for juveniles leaving the justice system
EBPSCP also has coordinated the development of aftercare programs in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties for youth who are released from juvenile correctional centers. These programs provide education, employment, and mentorship. An evaluation of the Alameda County Camp Sweeny aftercare program, for juvenile males 1418 years of age with less than 8 weeks left in their residential phase, demonstrated that compared with a control group aftercare participants retained their jobs for 3 months longer and were less likely to be arrested and convicted for felonies.
Transferability and sustainability
EBPSCP seeks to strategically coordinate the human and fiscal resources within the Corridor to sustain those efforts that have proven effective in curbing crime and drug abuse, especially among families and youth. To accomplish this goal, EBPSCP takes on new initiatives using a problem-solving approach; once these initiatives prove effective, it then engages in a process of transferability and sustainability. Strategies and intervention actions undertaken by EBPSCP are developed only after there has been a thorough analysis of the crime, social issues, and resources present in a targeted jurisdiction. A work plan is then developed and implemented by EBPSCP partners through a memorandum of understanding and service agreements. An interagency technical staff team is created to implement the work plan, and a lead agency is designated. Federal or State demonstration funds are often drawn down through grants to pilot test the program work plan.
Once an initiative has been demonstrated to be effective, the program model is shared with other jurisdictions. Local or State long-term sources of funding are sought to sustain the initiative as a permanent institutionalized program. In many cases, existing resources allocated to local or State agencies can be redistributed or new laws enacted with accompanying funds for implementation. This process was used with the Truancy Enforcement Program, which now receives funding through local school districts in the East Bay Corridor. Reducing truancy and unexcused absences has led to increased enrollment, which in turn has increased the enrollment revenues available to the school districts funds that can now be used to help these youth stay in school.
Critical to this process of research and development, followed by transfer to other jurisdictions and building sustainability, is the formulation of interagency agreements and the sharing of resources among the public and private agencies in the jurisdiction. A Joint Powers Agreement provides legal authority for the partner agencies to share common resources dedicated to the purposes outlined in the agreement. EBPSCP remains involved in providing coordination, support, and technical assistance to the local partnership initiatives while simultaneously maintaining regional and cross-jurisdictional communication and linkages.
Gun violence impacts
Gun violence has decreased dramatically throughout the Corridor. From 1993 to 1997, homicides fell by 28.9 percent across all jurisdictions in the Corridor. As shown in the following table, Oakland experienced a 35.7-percent drop in homicide rates and Richmond saw a 36.5-percent decline.
The dramatic reduction in the number of homicides cannot be attributed directly to any one of the programs described above, but is more likely due to the cumulative effect of a comprehensive, multipronged approach involving intensified law enforcement efforts, the development of many community-based prevention and intervention activities, and the coordinating efforts of EBPSCP.
Table 2. Homicide Within the East Bay Public Safety Corridor