Bay Area Council Members in Oakland Share Concerns, Solutions to Address Rampant Crime

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With crime in Oakland hitting crisis levels, the Bay Area Council on Monday (Feb. 5) convened member companies from the city to share what they’re experiencing and discuss ways to stem the tide. Almost 70 representatives from many of Oakland’s largest employers offered harrowing tales, including one whose main offices were riddled with bullet fire during a recent gun fight and another who described how car thieves on an almost daily basis abandon stolen and stripped vehicles on train tracks, disrupting commercial and passenger rail service. With concerns about rising crime soaring in recent years, the Council’s Executive Committee has made public safety our top policy priority.

A recent San Francisco Chronicle story reported that violent incidents in Oakland in 2023 rose 21% compared with 2022, with robberies increasing 38% and burglaries jumping 23%. And several major employers who are Council members have recently announced extraordinary measures to keep their workers out of harm’s way, including advising workers to stay in offices for lunch and providing costly security escorts. For beleaguered residents and businesses, Gov. Newsom delivered some very good news this week (Feb. 6) when he announced he is deploying an additional 120 California Highway Patrol officers to help the city restore order. 

Members on Monday discussed a wide range of ideas for addressing Oakland crime, including keeping pressure on local elected leaders to prioritize public safety and dramatically bolster the city’s law enforcement response, and increasing communication and coordination among employers and local partner organizations like the Oakland Chamber of Commerce to share information and align advocacy and safety activities. At the suggestion of Council Board member and Valley Water CEO Rick Callender, who serves as president of the California/Hawaii NAACP, we welcomed Oakland NAACP President Cynthia Adams to share a Ten Point Plan the group released last September to make the city safer. 

Input from the meeting was invaluable in informing the Council’s public safety work in Oakland. We will be sharing it with Oakland city leaders as we move quickly to develop a local strategy for addressing this issue. Among the Council’s efforts is launching a coordinated regional police recruitment campaign to address major staffing shortages. 

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