Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 28, 2017

Citizens arrest

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

Despite getting an update on the status of the state of crime in Alameda.  Also know Trish Spencer read on Facebook a bunch of people believing that crime has increased in Alameda and therefore decided to place a Council Referral on the agenda rather than just go to the source directly and ask the Chief of Police.  To wit:

Members of the public have expressed concern over what appears to be an increase in crime in the community.  Consider directing staff to provide a public update on crime within the City that includes trends, what the City is doing and what additional steps can be taken to reduce or thwart criminal activity.  Council should consider holding a workshop on the matter.

The Chief of Police, Paul Rolleri, had this My Word published after the meeting on the 21st, which means it was probably written well before that meeting.  Highlights:

For the first time as the chief of police, there is a pending City Council referral asking for a report about crime in Alameda. Instead of keeping everyone in suspense, I thought I’d take an opportunity to let everyone know what the data is, both good and bad.

We recently pulled data for all crimes from 1988 to present, and as you can see in the chart, crime in 2017 is around the same as last year and the year before. Compared to the long-term, crime today is historically low. There is still much work to be done, but I hope that having access to this data helps show the community that Alameda is a safe place to live, work, and go to school.

We see a similar trend with moving citations and collisions significantly lower than they were a decade ago. Even still, our officers are on pace to write 10,000 citations this year. In October, I increased the number of motorcycle officers to four by transferring an officer from patrol into the Traffic Unit.

Chart is below:

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 4.26.44 PM

So despite the data that shows that crime is not up even though Facebook and NextDoor warriors may perceive it to be, Trish Spencer went ahead and put another Council Referral on the agenda, this time to:

Consider Creating a Police and Crime Citizens Oversight Advisory Committee.

Specifically to:

The purpose would be to provide vision, guidance and oversight to the delivery of police services in our City.  Through its members, the Committee will facilitate communication and develop a mutual understanding of roles and expectations between the community and our City Police.  This highly collaborative partnership will optimize police resources in our City by providing thoughtful insight into the safety and security needs of our diverse community and by monitoring police activity in our City.

Now, if the creation of the oversight committee was in response to recent systemic allegation of use of force or racial profiling I would be all for it, but the way it’s drafted sounds like Trish Spencer is interested in taking the job of the City Manager and Chief of Police out of the hands of the City Manager and Chief of Police.

“[V]ision, guidance, and oversight to the delivery of police services” and “optimize police resources…by providing thoughtful insight into the safety and security needs” appears to be duplicative of what the Chief of Police does.  He allocates limited police resources based on the needs of the City and its citizens.  I’m not quite sure if armchair commissioners with a few Dick Wolf episodes under their belts have the capacity to “optimize police resources.”  I expect the other Council Members to insist on a rationale as to why this is necessary.


  1. Question for the old timers:

    The sharp drop in crime in the late 90’s *seems* to correlate with the closing of the navy base. I moved here in 2001 so I never experienced Alameda as a navy town. Did the base closing have a significant effect on crime or is that purely coincidental?

    Comment by dave — November 28, 2017 @ 6:47 am

    • Alameda (except for the east end, which hasn’t changed much) is a bucolic paradise (which is not necessarily a good thing) compared to what it was in pre base closing days. Turn 5-6 thousand sailors loose when a carrier’s in port after being at sea for a few months and Webster street (Johnny’s) and “Dales” (right outside the base) plus dozens of other drinking joints were rocking every night on the west end. Most civilian workers, on the other hand, commuted home off island and left the town at quitting time. A lot of sailor crime (petty mostly) probably never got reported because Navy shore patrol handled it.

      Comment by Jack — November 28, 2017 @ 8:27 am

  2. I kinda had the same thoughts and questions when I saw agenda item and am skeptical that creating a new committee or commission will improve use of police resources. Just preparing for such meetings and dealing with a commission would be an additional drain, albeit a small one, on those resources. The police Dept already does a pretty good job without a showy commission. If at all possible, and in the absence of a significant problem that really demands creating a new commission, let them focus on policing and not politics,.

    Question re: “recent systemic allegation of use of force or racial profiling”. Is that something specific in the local news or a reference to issues across the country, generally?

    Comment by MP — November 28, 2017 @ 7:36 am

    • In general nationally. It’s not been an issue in Alameda recently, so I’m not quite sure what is the point of this commission.

      Comment by Lauren Do — November 28, 2017 @ 7:39 am

    • I completely agree. It is actually a notable amount of work for staff to support a public commission, and can be significant depending on the demands of the commission (ie. requests for staff research and analyses in addition to preparing for and managing meetings). In this case, this commission seems to me to be unwarranted and a waste of staff resources.

      Comment by dya — November 28, 2017 @ 11:07 am

      • It would be a better use of the resources for APD to patrol rather than staff this useless commission.

        Comment by BarbaraK — November 28, 2017 @ 11:35 am

  3. This referral probably comes on the heels of the community meeting held with the City Council and the Chief of Police several months ago. They reported experiencing an increase in crime in their neighborhood and wanted to know what could be done.

    One neighbor reported feeling “on their own” after the meeting which could be the reason for the referral.

    Comment by Karen — November 28, 2017 @ 8:10 am

  4. Seems to me this is more about going after Rolleri for supporting the CM and not about crime in Alameda. Can’t wait to see Vella and Oddie’s next referrals. This is such a disgrace and reflects poorly on Alameda.

    Comment by Eyeroll — November 28, 2017 @ 8:37 am

  5. Meanwhile…any updated news on the Bay Farm Bomber?

    Comment by vigi — November 28, 2017 @ 9:03 am

  6. I agree, more patrols would probably address their concerns.

    Comment by Karen — November 28, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

  7. The Red man was pressed from this part of the west,
    He’s likely no more to return,

    Comment by Gerard L. — November 28, 2017 @ 4:03 pm

  8. I’d like to know why the police are so understaffed. Not buying the “can’t find good help” excuse.

    Comment by Eric Strimling — November 29, 2017 @ 6:08 am

    • It’s a national problem not one isolated to Alameda. Here’s an article from January 2017 in the Economist: Police departments struggle to recruit enough officers


      The dynamics underpinning the shortages vary by department, but there are national trends making it harder for police forces to attract applicants. The first is a strong economy. Nelson Lim, a researcher at the RAND Corporation, a think-tank, says this is nothing new. When plenty of jobs are available, people are usually less motivated to enter dangerous professions. Police forces as well as the armed forces tend to field less interest in boom times.

      Comment by Lauren Do — November 29, 2017 @ 6:17 am

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