Public Comment

Commentary: A Call For a Functioning Oakland Police Department

Friday April 21, 2006

My limited experience in Oakland is that police officers are mismanaged and poorly trained. The problems of mismanagement and lack of accountability affecting officers extends well beyond their ranks and into city, county and state government. It’s not ex citing, but fostering basic, functioning systems is what is needed for our schools, police, transit, DMV among other services. 

As someone who bought a house three years ago in West Oakland, I hear gunshots routinely, have light aircraft buzzing over my h ouse well below the 1000-foot requirement, daily witness people blasting through the stop sign in front of the house, have half full paint cans, old tires, furniture and assorted garbage dumped illegally in front of my house (or in front of neighbors’ hom es and businesses). I have found human feces on my property, had my home broken into and now have the “honor” of, two out of three years, deducting the dollar value of stolen property off my income taxes. Previously having lived in Manhattan and then Berk eley, I never had the misfortune to be aware of this tax write-off until moving here. 

Oakland citizens who are victims of crimes have to do their own criminal investigations and hand results to OPD if we expect them to be involved. Vigilante cops like th e Riders, run amok and when caught, the courts bungle the process and they walk. Peaceful protesters are brutalized by OPD and tax payers are penalized with settlements. 

Anyone with brains would think three times before accepting a job here as a police o fficer. 

In January 2005, the car I was driving was hit in the rear while making a turn by an uninsured driver with a suspended license in Oakland. The OPD officer who arrived on the scene couldn’t comprehend the physical evidence. He was too busy chattin g up the assailant who was wearing a miniskirt. I had to go through OPD Internal Affairs and retrieve documented testimony from a CHP officer who also witnessed the accident scene to get the OPD report revised to be factual. On top of being nearly serious ly injured by a driver that, in a world that had any sense of justice would have sent him to jail, I was insulted by having to waste significant time and energy in my defense. The assailant is probably still racing her SUV on the wrong side of the road he re in Oakland. 

In March 2006, I made plans to meet a friend in downtown Oakland for dinner. She took the train in from Lafayette. I drove from my home to meet her. When I arrived she was already at street level and we made eye contact and waved to each o ther. She was on the opposite side of the street and I pulled my car over at the corner, put my hazard signal on, and she crossed with the next green light and climbed into my car. I never left my vehicle and it only stood there for about 90 seconds. As we pulled away, Alameda County sheriffs appeared from behind, pulled me over and gave me a semi-legible ticket ($25, $75, some other sum?) for the infraction of “stopping” in a bus zone. I had to keep a straight face and say “yes sir” as the young officer tells me the ticket is for my own good because I could be crushed in my car by a speeding bus if it pulls up to the bus stop. The bus stop at 12th and Broadway is large enough for multiple buses to park at the same time. I’m in more danger when someone fl eeing a shooting races down my street through all the stop signs. 

The friend I had just picked up told me that, as she waited for me to arrive, she witnessed those cops attempting to pull someone else over, presumably for the same reason. But that driver had the forethought to flee and speed away. The cops just let them go. I guess there’s no income, and lots of danger, in chasing someone for a “stopping” ticket. I figure the fugitive must be one of the tough guys shooting guns at the corner liquor store in my neighborhood. So much for protecting citizens from rampant lawlessness. They aren’t here in Oakland to protect citizens from gross lawlessness, just to harvest citations. To top it off, AC Transit employs a private firm that mishandles the payment process to jack up these citation fees as an apparent fund raising scheme.  

In my new neighborhood, the Title and Registration Department at the DMV couldn’t successfully deliver the documents I paid for three times in a row in 2004 (they did manage to c ash the check). The DMV refused to address the system error and ultimately hand processed the documents. When the problem occurred again in 2005, I was flat out ignored by the governor’s office. I contacted my Rep. Wilma Chang to force the DMV to address the system issue. Although her office was responsive, the DMV still refused to address the system issue and hand addressed my particular situation again. They blame it on my zip code and their computer. What will they do this year? 

The message in Oakla nd is loud and clear. Criminals run amok and those that follow rules are punished. Let your car registration expire and run from the cops if they try to pull you over. Kill and rob with impunity because cops are too busy chasing easy money from people who actually have something to lose. And those administering these governmental systems are too busy engaging in careerism and searching for the next promotion to pay attention to the task at hand. And no one is accountable. 

Our politicians fail to attend t o the broken systems which sustain us. For every drug deal gone bad that ends in murder, there are 12 beatings. For every assault there are 12 incidents of robbery that went un-investigated. For every robbery there are 12 drivers with suspended licenses t hat drove away. For every 12 suspended licenses there are 12 people who got so fed up with a school system and DMV that doesn’t work they said, “why bother?” This is a crime pyramid that will not be broken until the suspended licenses, illegal dumpers, st op sign runners and other quality of life criminals are brought to justice. That task isn’t easy or glamorous and apparently doesn’t serve political re-election campaigns. 

Based on what happened in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, and what we’re seeing here in Oakland, we’re fools to not arm ourselves and take matters into our own hands when the time comes for “police” activities. 

There’s no one to blame but the body count in this town but the elected officials who enable and justify broken sys tems for their personal gain and the individuals at the top of this “crime pyramid” who murder. 


Oakland resident Vince Rubino will vote against all Oakland city incumbents and any Oakland bond measures for anything doing with city services. They’re frauds.