What are the goals of the Department of Violence Prevention and the Violence Prevention Coalition (VPC)?
We believe that in order for Oakland to become California’s safest city, everyone must believe that it is possible to eradicate Oakland’s epidemic of violence. We believe that it is possible to radically reduce the number of people victimized by at least 80% when systems are coordinated, community engagement is authentic and impacted residents are engaged as leaders, not just service recipients.
The Chief’s number one priority is drafting an integrated blueprint for violence reduction that will reach the 80-in-3 goals and includes establishing the City’s first crime victims support unit and a Deputy Chief to lead the effort to eradicate sexual exploitation of children and intimate partner violence.
What is the purpose of the Department of Violence (DVP)?
The DVP exists to support and implement community-led and community-informed interventions and strategies to disrupt the cycle of violence and support healing and healthy relationships. Those who live with the problem of Oakland violence hold the keys to the solutions.
What does the 80-in-3 goal mean?
The Oakland Violence Prevention Coalition (VPC) believes that high expectations backed by focused effort will produce transformative results. We have called for an 80% reduction in gun-related homicides and shootings; an 80% reduction in the number of children abducted into the commercial sex trade; an 80% reduction in the number of families distressed by intimate partner violence; and an 80% clearance rate of homicide active and cold cases.
Why is a department necessary to reach the stated goals?
The creation of a department signals that we will not accept violence as not a norm in Oakland. If we are serious, we must dedicate resources and attention to violence prevention and intervention.
Who is served by the DVP?
Residents of Oakland impacted by violence and in need of healing solutions to violence reduction; however the work is centered around the experiences of the black community while remaining inclusive of immigrant communities and the LGBTQ+ community.
What is ‘healing’?
Community-based, non-policing practices to heal the wounded, restore relationships and address the cumulative effects of trauma. It includes a combination of mental health and victim support services.
What is the VPC and who can join?
The VPC was formed by individuals, and groups led by people, impacted by violence who supported the Council’s effort to elevate the expectation that Oakland can and should be the safest city for all residents, including those who live in the flatlands; however, we welcome any community members and allies who are interested in ending violence through community-led solutions.
Why did the VPC advocate for a ‘Chief’ and not a ‘Director’?
The VPC believes violence prevention efforts need to be a top priority for the City of Oakland. By calling the head of the department a ‘Chief’, the position is equal to the head of police. In the same way that a Chief of Police is seen as a skilled leader in the fight against crime, the Chief of Violence Prevention is a skilled leader in violence prevention. The Chief of the DVP should be a peer to other City department leaders focused on safety.
What is the VPC’s relationship with law enforcement?
The VPC does not have a relationship with any law enforcement agency. It is independent of the Oakland Police Department and actively seeks to find ways to end violence without police intervention. Police reforms are important but not the work of the DVP.
When you say ‘community led’, what does that mean?
Community-led means centering the conversation and elevating the importance of the wisdom and insight that comes from those involved in and impacted by violence, especially the acute manifestations of sexual exploitation, domestic violence and gun-related crimes and homicide.
How is the DVP different from the City’s current Ceasefire and Oakland Unite [Measure Z or Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention Act of 2014funded] programs?
The programs funded under the Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention Act of 2014 are either services provided to the community following a tragedy and, often, tied to policing as a way to reduce violence. The DVP is focused on creating community-led solutions absent of law enforcement’s leadership. We recognize law enforcement’s role in enforcing laws and we aim to focus on alternatives to policing. Most importantly, the DVP will focus solely on the reduction of violence rather than having it sit among a suite of services [Note: Oakland Unite is a unit within a department addressing homelessness, senior services, early childhood education, etc].
Why the sense of urgency around violence prevention right now?
We’ve not seen meaningful shifts in violence. We believe in moving away from equating ‘violence’ with homicide. The DVP will work to address violence in all of its forms, which includes increased focused on domestic violence and sexual violence as well as the vicarious trauma related to gun violence. By addressing all forms of violence, the DVP will be working to change the culture in Oakland.