The Reclaim MLK’s Radical Legacy MLK Day March in 2018, organized by the Anti Police-Terror Project. (Photo: Brooke Anderson)

In January, Oakland saw a 129 percent increase in homicides compared to the same month last year. There were 102 murders in the city over the course of 2020, the most since 2012. Yet, according to a new report commissioned by the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP) and performed by AH Datalytics, only 4.2 percent of calls to Oakland Police have to do with violent crime. 

APTP is a member of the The Defund Police Coalition, a network of several local community organizations, which also includes the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, and Bay Rising. They’ve been working together to guide Oakland’s Reimagining Public Safety Task Force, a city-sanctioned group formed last summer to advise in the reallocation of 50 percent of OPD’s budget, towards resources they believe are in the community’s best interest.

On Feb. 12, the Task Force released their first iteration of draft recommendations for public safety in Oakland. A report from The Defund Police Coalition, released in two versions by the coalition as a whole, detailed which recommendations the coalition did and did not support. APTP hopes their latest report, analyzing how Oakland Police spend their time, will also be considered by elected officials and the general public as the task force deliberates.

“This moment matters not just for Oakland, but for the country as a whole,” states an APTP webpage where both reports are posted. “For well over a decade, Oakland has been America’s vanguard for criminal ‘justice’ reform and as we go, so does the nation.”

While the report says violent crime only makes up of 4.2 percent of calls, medical calls for service make up 10 percent, including mental health calls, suicide calls, and requests for welfare checks. The biggest segment of calls are related to traffic, which make up 12.6 percent of total calls. Roughly 11.4 percent of calls are unfounded or hangups, while 10.8 percent are for various “disturbances,” like noise complaints, and 4.3 percent are generated by security alarms.

Whether police officers spend their time effectively has been a core concern of activists pushing to defund the police since last summer. In 2019, Oakland Police received an average compensation of $254,053 a year, with several officers earning more than twice as much. Much of the increased compensation comes from overtime pay. One officer, Malcolm Miller, made over $640,000 that year — a city record. He was paid over $257,000 just in overtime, according to public records. Average pay for all city workers was $193,266, and activists believe city workers trained in mental healthcare, traffic control, and housing would be not only cheaper, but more qualified to handle many of the police force’s responsibilities.

The public has an opportunity to weigh-in on the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force’s recommendations Wednesday March 10 and again on Wednesday March 17. Oaklanders can also email comments up until the Task Force submits their final recommendations to the Oakland City Council on April 1.

The Oakland Police Department declined to comment on this story.