The topic at the LWV Berkeley Albany Emeryville 2022 Annual Meeting was “Addressing Public Safety in Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville”. Nancy O’Malley, District Attorney of Alameda County, opened the meeting by zeroing in on the problem of mass shootings and discussing the programs put in place to deter gun violence during her tenure. Her office has gathered statistics on firearms into a report titled “Guns in Alameda County 2012 – 2018” https://www.alcoda.org/resources/gun_safety.
It seems that laws are not written to proactively respond to all credible threats. Children involved in shootings most often tell people beforehand. Adults must recognize and work with those that make threats; frequently, those feeling isolated and/or being bullied. However, to carry out domestic terrorism, they must have access to guns. For this reason, among others, guns must be locked if a child is in the home – it becomes a misdemeanor if they are not. The goal is to protect a child and the public from harm.
O’Malley informed us that one-half of the 850 guns confiscated in Alameda County 2020 to 2012 were not registered in CA. It is likely that these guns were snuck in and sold on the street. Further, only nine individuals were the owner of the gun. On top of that, one can buy 3-D printer kits online for ghost guns and kits to convert handguns into automatic weapons.
The District Attorney has brought about a number of programs to support youth. The DA’s Office has received numerous awards for these programs. One is the Alameda County Restoration Program which was created as a model for Criminal Justice Reform https://www.alcoda.org/newsroom/2021/feb/da_announces_groundbreaking_diversion_program. O’Malley stated that this program has a recidivism rate of less than 15%. Another, The OK Program https://okprogram.org/about/#mentorship, works with children ages 12 to 18 in a collaboration of the local police department, the school district, and faith-based community organizations. At School is a collaboration to keep K-12 students attending school.
Another program for older members of the community is the CARES Navigation Center https://www.alcoda.org/newsroom/2021/jul/cares_navigation_center_which is an alternative to incarceration for those recently arrested. In the program, police identify a person with drugs or mental health difficulties and take them to a Peer Support Specialist rather than jail. O’Malley concluded with the affirmation that we can find successful programs to serve our youth.
The panel that followed was an opportunity to find out what our city leaders see as the greatest public safety challenges and what they are doing about it. Terry Taplin, Berkeley City Councilmember, District 2, has been working to implement the Ceasefire Program https://berkeleyca.gov/city-council-regular-meeting-eagenda-may-31-2022 (#31 on Agenda), and Flex Team because of the recent escalation of gun violence. In response to the ongoing cycle of poverty, Taplin is now promoting a basic income called the Economic Justice Program. Lt. Melanie Turner from the Berkeley police force cited the new Transparency Hub https://berkeleyca.gov/community-recreation/news/berkeley-police-department-would-announce-new-transparency-hub which is an online compilation of policing statistics. Turner saw de-escalation training as an asset to creating solutions.
Hector Malvido, Berkeley Reimagining Public Safety Task Force member, added needed dimension and context to the panel by discussing root causes of street-level crime. He said ongoing work between community members and police was needed. Greg Downs, Albany Community Task Force on Policing Member, advised open communication between the police and the public as well; he saw Albany playing catch-up as residents began to look into policing issues. Courtney Welch, Emeryville Councilmember & Public Safety Committee member, discussed organized retail theft as a main driver of crime in her city. Welch noted that due to the public safety concerns expressed during the forum, the issue should be brought to discussion at an upcoming Emeryville City Council meeting.
Listing of websites may have been used in the above article or of interest.
- Alameda County District Attorney’s website on Gun Safety: https://www.alcoda.org/resources/gun_safety
- OK Program https://okprogram.org/about/#mentorship
- Restoration Justice created by O’Malley
- Truancy – prevention so that the problem doesn’t carry to late life – https://atschool.alcoda.org
- C.A.R.E.S. Navigation Center https://www.alcoda.org/newsroom/2021/jul/cares_navigation_center_
- California Firearms Laws Summary – https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/media/cfl2021.pdf
The Business Meeting
RECOMMENDED LWVBAE PROGRAM FOR 2022-2023
The Board recommends:
- Retain all current positions (see Local Support Positions)
- Emphasize the following for education and action using a DEI lens:
- Climate Change, especially electrification, and fire hazard
- Criminal Justice, including the Social and Economic Justice Commission in Albany, and in Berkeley, following the new Police Accountability Board; Updating the LWVUS Position to the LWVC Criminal Justice Position
- Health Care Reform, specifically single-payer; Updating the LWVUS Healthcare Position
RECOMMENDED LWVUS PROGRAM FOR 2022-2024
The Board recommends:
- Using a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) lens, and under the “Campaign for Making Democracy Work” framework
- Voting rights
- improving Elections
- Money in Politics
- Updating the following LWVUS Positions as recommended by LWVUS
- Healthcare Position
- Criminal Justice Position
RECOMMENDATION OF THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE
FOR 2022-2023 BOARD POSITIONS
President: Kandea Mosley Gandhi
Secretary: Elise Mills
Treasurer: Cynthia Chen
BOARD OF DIRECTORS – 6 REQUIRED BY THE BYLAWS
Submitted by the Nominating Committee: Nick Pilch, chair,Cynthia Kamau, Rashida Hanif, Christine Wenrich, Elise Mills
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