Like a sweep at the Oscars, the Ceasefire program and its many partners won most of the awards at the Oakland Police Foundation’s Neighborhood Champions Awards this past Saturday. This is based on the current success of Ceasefire in significantly dropping the rate of violent crime in Oakland.

The awards honored the full network of Oakland’s Ceasefire program: police leaders, district attorneys, the faith-based community, human service and outreach workers, and all the citizens who actively contributed to East Oakland’s 28% reduction in violent crime last year. The event was co-sponsored by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Make Oakland Better Now!

Multiple awards went to Rev. Dr. George C. Cummings, who is the Pastor at Imani Community Church, and has been the co-chair for the Ceasefire steering committee. Rev. Cummings, and also Rev. Zachary Carey of SAVE, shared their insights regarding violence in Oakland with over 200 people at the awards ceremony held at Acts Full Gospel Church on 66th Avenue.

Awards went to key staff and “violence interrupters” at Oakland California Youth Outreach (OCYO), the clergy and congregations directly involved in supporting the current Ceasefire program, three Alameda County District Attorneys working with the Ceasefire program, Reygan Harmon, the city’s project manager for Ceasefire, 14 OPD officers, and Melinda Haag, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

Bruce Nye, CEO of Make Oakland Better Now! (MOBN), praised the work of SAVE (Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere) and Pastor Zachary Carey for their Saturday actions to witness and speak out about the violence in Oakland. Nye said Pastor Carey and SAVE supporters are examples of “living faith out loud.”

Carey said he has lived in Oakland his entire life, growing up near 105th and San Leandro Boulevard. “Now 50 years later… it’s night and day how it’s changed. I love Oakland… and I can live anywhere in the country and raise my children. But that would be the coward’s way out.”

“We have to do something about this violence,” Carey continued, “that has taken over not just Oakland but all of urban America…. For this generation of young people, this is your Civil Rights moment. ”

IMG_1928Raising the award above his head, “[This is] on behalf of all those who have died in this city. I don’t receive this for Zachary Carey, or for True Vine Ministries, but for everyone who has stood with us on the block the last four years, and we are trying to encourage other churches to get involved, but if it’s the last thing I do, if I have breath in my body, I will say something about the violence!”

Captain Ersie Joyner, who grew up as an at-risk youth in Oakland, received a President’s Award for his work with Ceasefire and gang case management. “I am Captain Ersie Joyner and I stand before you today as a 23-year veteran of the OPD… When I grew up in East Oakland, I hated the police.”

DSC00125Captain Joyner said that, in spite of police operations that put hundreds of criminals away, the Oakland homicide rate had remained in the 120-160 range.  He added that Ceasefire is the first operation he has ever seen that “really, truly is making a difference.” He said that the people being honored, “…all the law enforcement people, the outreach people, the D.A.s, the people who work the streets… these are the relationships being forged right now that are going to carry this city into the next few decades. ”

Earlier, Greg Brown, chair person of the Oakland Police Foundation, told the audience, “…we are here to celebrate … a most significant reduction in violent crime and gang crime in the city of Oakland in decades,” and, “it is a great privilege for us to be able to say thank you to these people for all their hard work, the risks that they take, and the creativity that they bring to us.”

DSC00059(2)He also introduced Mayor Jean Quan, who was recognized for being a long-term supporter of Ceasefire. She mentioned the ongoing contribution of Reygan Harmon, who championed the Ceasefire cause and worked the city side of the program while still on the Mayor’s staff, even before there was funding for a full time coordinator. “We knew this program could save lives,” Quan told the audience.

“I also want to thank the churches,” explained Quan. “We particularly want to thank Dr. Cummings for leading, …and lastly I want to thank the [OPD] Chief, because, bottom line, to make these resources happen, to provide the police officers to do the followup and get the results, really takes a commitment by the Chief.”

Chief Whent followed the Mayor and described Ceasefire as a committed three-way partnership of the community and clergy as key components, with human resources and the police. “When we work in partnership, we can all do a lot more than we can working individually,” Chief Whent said. Then he added, “Today, as of this week, non-fatal shootings are down 40% for the City of Oakland.”

Rev. George Cummings, the Pastor of Imani Community Church, gave a keynote address on the history of Ceasefire after accepting his award. “About 8 or 9 years ago, as a part of  my participation in OCO, we became deeply concerned about the issue of violence in the City of Oakland and began to research what were possible solutions to the problem… We discovered the Ceasefire model and that was introduced to the City at a meeting at Imani Church about 7 years ago. We brought some members of the Boston program and members of the clergy and others who had worked in that program to the church, and the police chief at the time, to the church… Council member Jean Quan and others were there and we learned what the program was about.  And between then and now, the Ceasefire model was attempted many times in the City of Oakland. ”

DSC00083“But what is critical about Ceasefire is partnerships…  if you do not have all of the key partners in place,  Ceasefire will not work.” Rev. Cummings said with emphasis.  “…We are deeply grateful for the partnerships with the Mayor’s office, and with law enforcement, and service providers and community agencies, and faith leaders who are committed in partnership to make it work.”

“Ceasefire, properly speaking, focuses like a laser light on those who are the primary perpetrators or those who are most likely to be affected by gun violence… we came to understand that 60% of the homicides were occurring in East Oakland between High Street and the San Leandro border. We began to focus geographically on that area. ”

He added that the message to these individuals is, “We will not stand silently  while you shoot and kill members of the community.  We want you to put the guns down. We are prepared to work with you, we are prepared to offer alternatives, because you can not tell somebody to stop doing what they are doing to eat if you do not have an alternative for them.” He said in 2012 we had 132 homicides, but the rate in 2013 was 94, representing a 28% drop.

“A second component of Ceasefire is what I would call our Night Walks. Here the faith community plays an important role. For the last 15 months under the leadership of Rev. Damita Davis-Howard, we have walked those neighborhoods.” He said the Night Walks helped to change the feeling in communities “where people feel that nobody cares.”

“Another component of Ceasefire is the service providers … and here Oakland United, what used to be called Measure Y, is involved. And we have many of our street outreach workers here today. And there are others,” Cummings said.

“So here we are, at the beginning of 2014,” Cummings said in conclusion. “We’ve got some challenges, we’ve made some headway, and if we can continue the focus, I believe that we can make a difference in this city and make this city a safe and healthy place for all of our members to live.”

The Oakland Police Foundation was created in 2002 by an endowment from an Oakland police officer.  The mission of the Foundation is to create public safety partnerships and to focus on the needs of the police officers and the at-risk youth of Oakland.

The complete photo album of the event is available here.

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18 Responses

  1. Oakie

    Pardon me for interrupting your love fest with facts. I know that’s a problem for Jean Quan and sycophants awarding each other for reducing violent crime by 28% in 2013 from 2012.

    I just checked the latest murder stats for 2014 to-date on the OPD web site. The number of murders in 2014 is up 19% from the comparable time in 2013.

    If you want to take credit for the decline in violent crime in 2013, relative to 2012, then you are obligated to recognize the increase in 2014 compared to 2013. Verdad?

    Ceasefire is a cruel joke.

    Their penultimate accomplishment was a December 2013 meeting with a dozen or so of the worst members of our large People of Crime population, at which our Oakland civic leadership shook their fingers at these folks and told them in no uncertain terms that if they committed just one (I repeat, one single more) crime than they already have, they will have the book thrown at them! No more Mister Nice Guy!

    We’re talking the worst parenting behavior imaginable. These particular audience members have committed a whole bunch of violent crimes, with guns illegally obtained, locked and loaded and ready for action, for which they did pull triggers on the streets of our city.

    And now we’re supposed to believe these folks will see the light and turn their life around. Go watch all 5 years of The Wire. There’s more reality in that show than these so called civic leaders are demonstrating.

    Their big meeting was in December 2013. Now we have the stats for 2014 to date, and the murder rate is 19% HIGHER than the comparable period in 2013. What better evidence than that to show how absurd the claims in the article are and now these Oakland “leaders” are celebrating the success of Ceasefire. It’s enough to turn my stomach.

    In other news, there’s a trial balloon floating around in the Chron story by Will Kane saying that cops here want to kill the Shot Spotter program. I smell the fingerprints of Jean Quan. The fact that the article was entirely devoid of any comment by her (or even a refusal to comment by her) smells very fishy. Some member of the OPD is commenting to the press, without checking in with the Chief, or with the new City Administrator (appointed just this week)? And they wouldn’t check with Quan before allowing this news story to get out? Smells like a fish to me.

    Shot Spotter costs $265k per year. By comparison, Jean Quan and her agreeable members of the City Council gave away $12 Million in raises to public employees.

    So some underling in OPD opens his mouth to Will Kane claiming SS is a waste of money. And Chief Whent is quoted as saying it’s not particularly a priority.

    Fine. I won’t even bring up the pros and cons of the SS. But what I will say is that SS provides VITAL and OBJECTIVE measurements of the level of violent crime we are experiencing in Oakland. Stats show about 10 gun shots PER DAY right now. And that data can be tracked over time, so when we have, say, a mayor making a claim that violent crime is down by 28%, we can all look at the objective data and figure out if she is telling the truth or tell a Quan-lie (which, imho, is a redundancy).

    I think the real reason they want to kill the SS program is because they don’t want this objective stats collector to continue proving they are liars.

  2. livegreen

    I commend Ceasefire, but I agree with Oakie there are problems with the timeline.

    First, when Ceasefire was originally attempted 7 years ago it was not supported or prioritized, and it fell apart.

    Second, recent past board members of Make Oakland Better Now (MOBN), Joe Tuman and Libby Schaaf (among others), lobbied HARD at City Council for Ceasefire to be retried WITH a) Adequate police support, b) A dedicated staff coordinator to help manage the system.

    Without their pressure, persistence and financing (from the City Council) this never would have happened. Thank you Joe & Libby.

    Thirdly, one of the reasons crime in 2013 fell so far is because it rose so high in 2012. The drop in 2013 would not be so tremendous if in 2012 crime had not been stratospheric. Crime before & after 2012 ARE STILL WAY TOO HIGH. Oakland is still the Robbery Capital of the United States. (Even if we were top 10 it would be too high!)

    & as Oakie points out, it’s going back up.

    If Ceasefire is working, what’s up so far in 2014?

    There might be other reasons. I’d just like to know what the reasons are, whatever they are…

  3. R2D2II

    As many observers have pointed out year-after-year, 10 to 20% or even more variations in the Oakland homicide rate are within the expectable variations, based on 40 years of observations.

    If homicides were down were the number of gunshots observed by Shotspotter also down? If homicides are up this year thus far over the last year, how do we explain an increase during the part of the year in which historically homicides are relatively low?

    No curiousity in City Hall about the real truth; real truth is simply PR that works.

    It’s a measure of Oakland’s electeds’ ongoing dishonesty-as-policy that claims of success are repeated again and again in the face of crime rates that continue to exceed national averages by several times.

    Making sense of what’s going on regarding crime in Oakland is critical to doing the thousand-and-one things needed to actually stop the harm crime is doing to our community. Lying simply isn’t helpful.

    Lying is foolish, and if Quan and her cronies and organizations like Make Oakland Better Now think that they speak the truth, then matters are even worse.

  4. Oakie

    “If homicides were down were the number of gunshots observed by Shotspotter also down?”

    This got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing, but I digress). If the OPD now is suggesting to get rid of SS, it makes me think the opposite: why isn’t measuring the numbers of guns fired a better metric of overall violence in our city than even murders? After all, the difference between murder and just a gunshot is just the aim of the shooter, which among the population of People of Crime is notoriously not that good.

    I would claim it is better, and at my cynical moments I would suggest that this is exactly why they want to dump the system.

    After all, OPD suggests (according to that SS is “redundant” and claims “a lot of times it is followed with phone calls from our community, so we’re not missing out on a whole lot.”

    Got that? “A lot of the times…” meaning a bunch are not reported except by SS (as indicated with quotes from residents of the Kill Zone saying “she regularly hears gunfire near her home on 65th Avenue but doesn’t usually call police”).

    Furthermore, any sentient observer giving a cursory glance at this argument recognizes that a system like SS gives almost exact location and almost instantly, instead of depending on an observer taking the necessary time to call 911, waiting for them to answer, going through the questions asked by the operator and then saying “it seems to be coming from that way” and how many blocks away? Who can give OPD that? In my more cynical moments, I would say those arguing to get rid of SS because people call them in “most of the time” are not sentient.

    Then OPD suggests the money could be better spent on owning a OPD helicopter which “can race from one side of the city to another faster than a patrol car and can also use infrared radar to search for suspects on rooftops or behind fences.”

    Forget that they don’t even know that radar and infrared are two different spectrums, they don’t seem to have at their fingertips what budget would be required to support such an exorbitantly luxurious addition to the toys owned by OPD compared with the measly $265k for SS. Given the hourly fuel and labor costs of keeping choppers up in the air, I think I know why they don’t have that information available as part of their proposal to end SS and start playing with their chopper toy. Again, are they sentient?

    Now that OPD brought this up, I’m thinking we would be better off making SS the center of a new anti-crime initiative for the city that might actually bring down violent crime.

    As opposed to Ceasefire, the cruel joke of bad parenting to People of Crime.

    Instead of gathering the top 20 People of Crime into a room and wagging fingers at them threatening to actually enforce the law, why not just change policy and tactics to ACTUALLY enforce the law with the understanding that the People of Crime will figure things out of their own agency. I think that was one of the main lessons we (could have) learned from the New York City Miracle. They did not take the Ceasefire approach, instead they changed policies and tactics which made it clear to their People of Crime that they would more likely be caught and convicted for their criminal actions than they were during the previous decades. New York did not wag their fingers, they did things that worked: making it more difficult to be a criminal in their city. THAT is what we have most definitely not done. And that is why they lowered their crime rate by 80% and ours is stubbornly as bad as it’s ever been for 30 years.

    Here’s an idea:

    How many sworn officers work (well, at least employed) in IA?

    I say shut down the whole IA effort completely and take those officers, put them on the street and SWARM gunfire events. Take whatever budget is required to transfer this function to the DA’s office where it belongs and let them root out our bad cops. If Whent is the best we’ve had in the IA force (where he ran things before being anointed Chief), I think it’s pretty weak tea anyway.

    I’ve just been looking over the available data from SS (I only got as far back as 1/13; Anyone know where I can get data from 2012 and older?). The peak gunfire happened in January 2014 (ironically, or not, that is right after the most successful Ceasefire sit-down event in December, ha ha). There were 565 guns fired. That, on average, means a gun was illegally fired in the Kill Zone of our city every 1 hour and 15 minutes continuously over the month. Of course the real data are more bunchy, occurring mostly at night and weekends, but that’s a pretty shocking statistic. Especially if Quan’s claim is true, as she proudly proclaims that her leadership has resulted in a 28% reduction in violent crime.

    So if we can actually catch some of the people firing those guns, given that we get almost instantaneous notification of the location of these events, I think the People of Crime will quickly figure out things have actually changed for them. And that is something Ceasefire never even claims to do-it only threatens to do.

  5. R2D2II

    Oakie–yours are thoughtful observations. If only we had some elected officials who were able to reflect in such a way, we might actually be able to put together a coherent plan for reducing crime.

    Your thoughts have a couple of problems as I see them. First, anything an Oakland police chief says in public is going to be essentially political in a way that embellishes the boss, namely the Great Quan. Quan DO NOT EVER accept anything resembling freedom of speech for her servants. Remember just last week the Deanna Santana thing in which Santana’s bottom line was that she could not stomach having to deal personally with Quan. It’s Quan’s way or the highway and that’s why OPD appears to say something odd about Shotspotter. The truth indicator is, as aways, where the money actually flows. When Quan/OPD point to a possible savings of $250K you know that there is $10 million disappearing down the sewer elsewhere.

    In terms of restructuring IA in OPD, remember that Quan and her cronies on the Council essentially gave up management of OPD when Judge Henderson fired them. All Quan and the Council can do now is PR. Thus the “Neighborhood Champion” “news” which has co-opted the Chief of Police, SAVE, OCO, several Black church leaders, all for the political benefit of Quan and the Council and their support contigent in organizations like Make Oakland Better Now.

  6. Oakie

    True dat. I strongly believe that the whole proposal to kill SS is a trial balloon instigated by Ah-Q. Given that the OPD Chief reports to the City Administrator (putting aside the whole issue that in reality everything is run like a Plantation under Henderson with his lackey the Plantation Overseer), and that we have a new Administrator appointed by Ah-Q just this week, there is absolutely zero probability this wasn’t at least done with her approval.

    I did email Will Kane who put together that article at SFGate telling him I think he missed the entire story. The fact that there are no fingerprints from Ah-Q, even a ‘decline to respond’ mention indicates to me it is an intentional trial balloon. To follow up on that should have been juicy catnip for any journalist, but that’s the state of affairs regarding the media I suppose.

    I also forwarded that email to both Courtney Ruby and Joe Tuman, the only two candidates with any cojones or sufficient grey matter to spend any effort on. Unfortunately both their web sites do not give an email address but have the same lame web form to fill in, but I bent to their silly web strictures and crudely pasted it in.

    Will Kane asked me if they responded to what I sent them (funny he didn’t just go directly to them). In any case, absolutely no response from either of them. I intend to make a campaign contribution to at least one of them, but if they are not responsive on this issue I won’t do that (nor would I encourage others to do so).

    It seems to me this trial balloon is an excellent opportunity for a decent candidate to get before cameras and demand a response from Ah-Q as to whether she will defend SS or not. I’m beginning to feel that SS is in fact the only kernel we have which could result in developing an effect crime reduction policy. The more the OPD tries to kill it the more strongly I feel this way. Funny how that works. To me it is the UnCeasfire.

    Furthermore, I would think this conception of dumping IA entirely and putting those sworn officers on the street to actually, you know, respond to violence on our streets, would make an excellent campaign issue. Don’t you think a majority of our voters are finally-FINALLY- sick and tired of the level of violence and the inactions of our elected leaders?

    I can see your point regarding the Henderson Plantation as the real power center and control over our city crime policy. It is true. We have, in fact, and with very little squealing from our citizens, ended democratic control of our city’s governance. And I have to say, after watching election results over the last 30 years (and working for a few candidates that were humiliatingly defeated), we deserve it for how we have voted. Names come to mind. Dellums, Quan, Reid, Brooks, Brunner, Nadel, and maybe in our near future Siegel. The nightmare we have lived under is of our own doing. And for that we do, indeed, deserve to live on a plantation.

  7. R2D2II

    Yo Oakie!

    I agree that Tuman and Courtney are the only two candidates who can/will tell the truth about any civic problem. I am supporting both of them. The critical thing in this next election will be to try to break the veil of secrecy and cynicism which blankets so much of Oakland politics and curtails any hope of progress or change.

    I think Tuman can see the bigger picture, which is that Oakland needs a useful vision. someone who can articulate that vision and management/leadership which understands the idea of priority (not priorities as in Quanspeak) and seeing things through until they’re actually completed. Tuman certainly has made the rounds talking (and listening) to many diverse points of view; he can also talk and write effectively which most city hall cronies cannot.

    Ruby has a narrower scope of things to offer, primarily ethical behavior, accountability and truth-telling. She’s proven this quite well. Any change at all in ethics, accountability and transparency downtown will constitute a radical revolution for Oaktown.

    The other candidates, not nearly so much. Most likely simply more of the same.

  8. Oakie

    The one big advantage of Courtney’s skill set vis a vis Tuman is that looming $1.5 Billion unfunded pension liability which will bring us to the brink of Detroit-hood faster than you can recite one of Quan’s lies, such as that she’s dropped our crime rate by 28% (before she raised it by 33%).

    Or is it $1.6 Billion. Oh, what’s $100 Million difference for a city with 390,000 residents (of which 20% have zero dollars to pay for it).

    Btw, did you see that pensioners of the Detroit public employee system had to settle for an 80% drop in promised benefits plus complete elimination of any of the healthcare benefits that were promised them.

    I really wish this (along with crime) were the primary topics being discussed in the zeitgeist of Oakland politics. Obama taught us to “Know Hope” but I don’t. Do you think Siegel can solve our problems? .

  9. R2D2II

    A dose of reality will make all the difference in Oakland. We have a lot of good people here and other resources. We’ve not been abandoned by corporate interests like Detroit. I think we can deal with all our problems in a productive way but we of course have to articulate the problems first which the Mayor and current Council cannot.

    Siegel is an interesting and intelligent person and no doubt an effective legal advocate. As a leader who might bring enough of Oakland together to actually get something done, no way.

  10. Oakie

    I apologize, the last line about Dan Siegel had fake html code around it with the tag “sarcasm” but the WordPress compiler ate it up and removed it.

    Dan Siegel would be a nightmare for a mayor. He’d outshine Q in all the wrong ways.

  11. jim emkey

    Oakie, IT seems you are against Ceasefire and FOR shotspotter. You are against intervention, with the clergy talking to young misled men and being talked to like adults(maybe for the 1st time) but yet you ARE for recording people getting shot. ?

    Let me try and figure out why you think shotspotter is effective.

    OaKIE “But what I will say is that SS provides VITAL and OBJECTIVE measurements of the level of violent crime we are experiencing in Oakland”

    So does UCR crime report.
    and what about STOPPING the crime?.

    Oaklie said “SS gives almost exact location and almost instantly”
    What is the avg response time now? Before ss?

    Oakie said “Now that OPD brought this up, I’m thinking we would be better off making SS the center of a new anti-crime initiative for the city that might actually bring down violent crime. ”

    Surveillance microphones have been up now for 8 years in East Oakland. Shouldn’t the criminals have figured it out by now(deterrent) Shouldn’t we have less crime in those areas? SHouldn’t the residents of this neighborhood feel safer? It’s been 8! years. Why on earth should this be the centerpiece of anti-crime. IT only documents crime, doesn’t address ANY issues to reduce crime, and there is absolutely no evidence it does.

    Oakie said , “So if we can actually catch some of the people firing those guns, given that we get almost instantaneous notification of the location of these events, I think the People of Crime will quickly figure out things have actually changed for them. And that is something Ceasefire never even claims to do-it only threatens to do.”

    Show me a case where it’s worked? Instant notification, still doesn’t mean better response time in real life. There is no dedicated money or staff for shotspotter, as stated in city council meetings. $1-$3 Million per year to run properly according to Jean Quan, Chief of police, VP of shotspotter and others.
    THere is no data. Dan Kalb, my councilman did not even know what a shotspotter was, are you telling me e. oakland criminals are smarter than Dan, and are aware AND deterred by a surveillance microphone that will ONLY record them.

    Ceasefire is open and transparent. (and looks succesful)
    Try calling shotspotter public relations, and ask them a question.
    Try to get the police to show you efficacy.
    Try to get a councilmember to understand the RIght to privacy and the fact that these microphones are open and on 24/7 with ZERO privacy rules put in place .
    Try to get the OPD to know the difference between video taping an intersection, and recording private conversation.

    Are surveillance microphones legal without a warrant. ?

    SHotspotter 8 years in Oakland. no staff no $….

    Oakie, I invite you to come to my channel and enlighten me.

  12. Oakie

    Hi Jim,
    I welcome the engagement on the issues of Operation Ceasefire (OC) and Shot Spotter (SS). Based on the range of information you provide on your YouTube channel “wakeupoakland” I’m sure I will learn much. You can check out my blog at

    It’s fair to say I’m against OC as it is practised in general and in Oakland in particular. It’s fair to say I want to keep SS, but not because I want it to continue as status quo, only that it has the potential to be the linchpin for a real and effective anticrime initiative (specifically gun violence). It is painful to watch SS as some sort of politician’s window dressing to “prove” how anticrime they are, which is apparently what is happening in Oakland. The privacy intrusion in our case may be significantly diminished since it is basically ignored at the moment. Courtney Ruby’s audit indicates the central computer was left off for months at a time. [Not to imply that your concerns are not important]

    My focus is on crime. I can see your focus on civil liberties. I’m happy to engage where those two have conflicting positions.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say I am against “intervention” per se; I can see it’s value. I object to OC in general because I believe it has not proven to work and I think politicians gravitate to it because it is mostly show (offering abundant video ops for the evening news of people walking with colorful signs or those infamous meetings with the worst of the worst) and can be done on the cheap as long as no one is looking too closely: as far as I can see, there is very little to it from the city’s viewpoint except hiring a “manager” of the program, with the added bonus that it’s a FTE with virtually no conceivable job prerequisites. It’s a very squishy and highly paid position, and it happens to be occupied in Oakland by a close relative of a recently retired DA top official. Google the name “Harmon Oakland Alameda.” How cozy (and suspect) is that? The fact is I don’t trust Oakland’s governance any more than you do.

    So, yes, I am for “recording people getting shot.” My assumption is that the data collected is not audio recording in the normal sense but a reliable data set to define the event as a gun being shot. I’ll leave it up to you to enlighten me about the properties of that data that make it a surveillance issue in the way you are framing it. I’m intentionally using “data set” vague because I know nothing about what the SS system does, but if it is not audio in the traditional sense then I would consider it a lot less invasive and therefore defensible.

    Here is my argument against OC:
    1. The data is mixed at best.
    Boston, where it was started, focused on youth killings. They peaked at 73 in 1990 (which happened to be the peak year for crime in general nationwide and has now dropped 40%–except Oakland where it’s as bad as ever). Implementation happened in 1999 and they did have a huge drop to 10. But if it’s such an effective and miraculous magic bullett, then why did it go up to 37 in 2005 and rose all the way to 52 in 2010? Based on nationwide general crime statistics, I would have expected the number to drop from 73 to 44 WITHOUT ANY PROGRAM. If they are already back up to 52 just by 2010, then I think it is a complete failure.

    New York City did not use OC, and they were able to drop all crimes by over 80% in that time period and it has never ratcheted back up, not for any year up to today. Robberies are down 90%. Without OC.

    2. I cornered Prof. Zimring (UC Berkeley), the premier criminologist documenting the New York Miracle (book is available at the Oakland Library). He was very diplomatic, basically saying it hasn’t been proven, yet. I smelled disdain for it, but that may be my bias.

    3. Chicago also has bitten into the OC hook. Here is a story this week:
    “Through Sunday, at least 48 youths age 16 or younger have been shot in Chicago this year, a Chicago Tribune analysis found.
    On Monday, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called the shooting in Park Manor and the violence throughout the city over the weekend – at least eight killed and 36 others wounded between Friday evening and midnight Sunday”

    8 Dead plus 36 Wounded in one weekend. That doesn’t sound like a successful program to me. By comparison, here’s a tidbit from Zimring’s book: From 1990 to 2009, Times Square Robberies went from 4,227 to 220. Now THATS an effective program worth implementing here.

    So my conclusion is that OC is mostly for window dressing, has never proven to be effective, and why should we choose that over something that HAS proven to work? The answer, sadly, is that stopping the violence in our city is not our collective first priority. People like Queen Quan have more important things to do.

    Shifting to your questions about SS, as I say I see it as an unutilized centerpiece of an effective crime fighting strategy:

    1. It is a useful statistic because it is objective: didn’t you see The Wire when the cops kicked the body across a city boundary so it didn’t affect their stats? And all the stats for lesser crimes than murder, where you’re stuck with a dead body, are far more squishy and subject to manipulation by people who have a clear motivation to bend the truth.
    A gun firing is the essence of our violent crime problem. Queen Quan’s bogus claim of 28% reduction in crime (and her claiming credit–what gall!) is clearly disproved. In January 2014 we had 565 incidents of gun fire. If it were evenly spread over the 31 days of the month that would mean a gun firing each and every hour and fifteen minutes. Does that sound like a city with 28% less violence?

    2. Stopping Crime/Average Response Time
    That’s where we get into what I believe ought to be the city’s crime fighting initiative. I would propose that the city shut down their Internal Affairs office and turn the problem of investigating cops over to where it should be: in the DA’s office. If we have bad cops behaving badly, I don’t want OPD investigating themselves because I simply do not trust them to be ethical. I have as jaundiced an eye for them as you do.

    Infamously, OPD has more inspectors investigating cops than investigating murders in our city (thanks to our Plantation Overseers). This is absurd. The head count in IA is almost 50. Most of those are very senior captains, etc. Take that budget and set up a rapid deployment squad. SS gives us EXACT locations WITHIN seconds of the gun fire event. I want that squad to be responsible for instantaneously swarming the location and bring to justice anyone who fires a gun in our city. With standard chemistry anyone suspected can have their hands tested for gunpowder on the spot. I believe that it would take only a few months of this (if we have a decent success ratio in arresting those folks) before the word got out and we would see a dramatic change in behavior. I’d bet money on that. Perfectly legal, perfectly constitutional if done properly by a competent police force.

    I think all the other points you made are affected by my response here so I will wait to hear from you in response.

  13. jim emkey

    Oakie, Thanks for the response. Wow. Not sure I can tackle all that. Not too much time right now.

    I do not have the research into CF as you do. I applaud the idea behind the plan, as far as implementation, it “seems” like Oakland is doing this better than the other cities you have noted .

    I also see how they all jump around congratulating themselves with a decrease, but are silent when the same number goes up next quarter.
    Political cha cha cha.

    My counter point to your argument is just based on the seemingly undeniable “Fact” that shotspotter is effective in deterring and reducing crime. As stated on their website. They go as far as to say their product “produces a protective bubble”

    I am focused on civil liberties because Shotspotter, OPD , city attorney, and city council refuse to even ask any questions. Shotspotter tells them what they want to hear and they believe them.

    They could EASILY remove any privacy concerns , by
    1. acknowledge them
    2. They could move these microphones to higher buildings, light poles.., instead of putting them up within 10 feet of people’s front yards. Do you think they should’ve at least told them that there will be an open microphone in front of their house, that could hear them talking on their porch.?

    They have a very good public relations dept, and gets their (propaganda) message out at every chance. They mislead and cherry pick their facts.

    THey say stuff like “the microphones only turn on with a boom or a bang” when they are in fact on 24/7. like a redlight camera.

    They say “it’s not designed to pick up conversations” or “it’s just not possible technically” There are a minimum of 2 cases where shotspotter admittedly heard conversations.

    Richmond Police officer went so far as to say he heard ‘birds chirping” on a recording.

    So although this was a CF article. I couldn’t just let your unbridled enthusiasm for a already failed system go without a comment. There are a lot of people out there who just assume SS is working. When there is really nothing for them to point to. I’m guessing you did look for data?

    Oakie, I invite you. (if you accept this challenge) to do your own research on this company and tell me what you find out. There is something strange going on over there. WHy is it just silence or misinfo that comes out of this company.

    I will check out your site, as I think everyone should always do their own research. ALthough city council just believes what people tell them.

  14. Oakie


    If it “seems” that Oakland is doing a better implementation of Operation Ceasefire than Boston or Chicago then it is an illusion. If you go to my blog I made an entry where I showed a graph of our annual murder body count from 2000 on. The mean value was 109 and the average annual variation from that produced a range that included last year’s 92 with no trending up or down. Therefore I concluded that last year’s decrease was simple noise/variation, not a trend. Furthermore, all the Shot Spotter data indicates that gun fire is not decreasing at all, which is correlating evidence. In my opinion OC is a diversion and worse than valueless: it interferes from finding a real solution: Queen Quan has no planned action other than proclaiming OC as our salvation.

    I make no claim that SS is deterring or reducing crime. I don’t think it is. But as it is, it is an objective data source useful in tracking the level of gun violence in our city. Plus I am suggesting that it could be the indisposable core of an effective anti-gun violence program. Having current SS data would be important to measure against the effectiveness of such a program.

    I would not support any effort to take actions to “remove privacy concerns” regarding SS unless someone can show me that as currently configured, it is IN FACT a privacy issue based on audio collected and archived, which would make it subject to potential misuse.

    Here is some information that is the basis for my suspicion that there is no factual privacy danger:

    Gunfire Characteristics
    There are three primary attributes that characterize gunfire and hence enable the detection and location of gunfire and similar weapon discharges:

    An optical flash that occurs when an explosive charge is ignited to propel a projectile from the chamber of the weapon

    A muzzle blast that occurs when an explosive charge is ignited to propel a projectile from the chamber of the weapon. A typical muzzle blast generates an impulse sound wave with a sound pressure level (SPL) that ranges from 120 dB to 160 dB

    A “snap” or “crack” that occurs as a projectile moves through the air at supersonic speeds

    [Optical flashes are not being used in our system, to my understanding.]

    The projectile generally must travel within 50 to 100 meters of a sensor in order for the sensor to hear a supersonic “snap”. The combination of a muzzle blast and a supersonic snap provides additional information that can be used along with the physics of acoustics and sound propagation to determine the range of a discharge to the sensor, especially if the round or type of projectile is known… A system that can hear minute differences in the arrival time of the muzzle blast and also hear a projectile’s shockwave “snap” can calculate the origin of the discharge.

    Gunfire acoustics must be distinguished reliably from noises that can sound similar, such as firework explosions and cars backfiring.
    Co-located array of microphones or a distributed array of acoustic sensors that hear a muzzle blast at different times can contribute to calculating the location of the origin of the discharge provided that each microphone/sensor can specify to within a millisecond when it detected the impulse. Using this information, it is possible to discriminate between gunfire and normal community noises by placing acoustic sensors at wide distances so that only extremely loud sounds (i.e., gunfire) can reach several sensors; this has been termed a ‘spatial filter’ in the first patent issued to ShotSpotter, Inc.
    Acoustic systems “listen” either for the bullet bow shockwave (the sound either of the projectile or bullet as it passes through the air), the sound of the muzzle blast of the weapon when it fires the projectile, or a combination of both.
    The sound reaching a sensor 1 mile from its origin will take almost 5 seconds. A few seconds to accommodate pickup from distant sensors and to discern the number of rounds fired, often an indicator of incident severity….

    SPL and corresponding acoustic propagation characteristics of high SPL impulsive sounds gave rise to the ‘spatial filter’ technique patented and used by ShotSpotter in its Gunshot Location System.

    Again, I see nothing is this description that would imply that SS would need to archive anything more than 5 or 10 seconds of audio recording before & after the incident. Why would the system archive audio for any other time period? It doesn’t make sense. Sinister belief that everyone is law enforcement wants to hear every fart you make is not sufficient proof.

    I would not support any unneeded surveillance. What I observe is a whole lot of know-nothings making unreasonable claims (very much comparable to the right wing know-nothings making other unreasonable claims), like at the recent City Council meeting demonstration. That recent Data Center issue was poorly thought through, and unsupportable for many many reasons, but Council meetings are starting to regularly look like the French Revolution. Only the guillotine is missing, and that may be coming soon enough.

    Unless someone can show that unneeded audio is being recorded and archived, I don’t support demanding any tweaking, relocating or any other modification to SS. Those microphones and other equipment have been placed by professionals who built those systems, presumably because they know what they are doing. For others to suggest changes that suit their whim or they are receiving signals from their aluminum foil hats is not a valid basis to demand changes to their system setup. Uneducated claims look to me like Barbarians at the Gate. Not aiming this criticism at anyone in particular.

  15. Oakie

    I found some new information:

    This is a case where some conversation (admittedly very loud arguing) was apparently recorded. Here is what the vendor said:

    Lydia Barrett, a spokeswoman for ShotSpotter, said the sensors are designed to be activated only when they detect a loud booming sound with the acoustic signature of a gunshot.

    “This is a very unusual circumstance if (the sensors) actually picked up any voices,” Barrett said. “In particular, I can’t ever remember in the history of our technology the sensors ever hearing a fight or some kind of argument going on.”

    When a sensor detects possible gunfire, it records the audio of the gunshots and relays information such as the caliber, location, time and number of shots to dispatchers and patrol officers within 20 to 30 seconds, Barrett said.

    “It’s an acoustic sensor. It’s not a microphone, and it’s only activated when a loud boom or bang happens,” said Barrett, who added: “It’s not listening. There is no listening.”
    So I sent off an email to the company to see if I can get further clarification.

  16. jim emkey

    Oakie, thanks for the spirited conversation, and it looks like you are generally interested in finding the truth. I will help point you in the right direction. Good luck into receiving ANY response from this company.

    “Why would the system archive audio for any other time period?
    It doesn’t make sense. Sinister belief that everyone is law enforcement wants to hear every fart you make is not sufficient proof.”

    In the description written by the company,? of course it sounds benign.
    Why would they archive it? I don’t know, but they do.

    VP James Bedlock “For forensic purposes, all loud, impulsive noises are logged by ShotSpotter systems, even if they do not trigger an automatic alert,
    in case those noises needed to be reviewed after-the-fact, he said.

    It’s not a sinister belief to think they can record every thing I say, because the fact is that they ARE, and Admit it. Which is, in fact, illegal.
    If they record one sentence I make, with an unwarranted microphone that is in front of my apt, IT is illegal.
    18 U.S. Code § 2518 – Procedure for interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications

    “What I observe is a whole lot of know-nothings making unreasonable claims.”
    Unreasonable claims? ME? About what? I’ve documented everything I’ve said here.
    Please don’t lose sight of what I’m saying specifically.

    “Those microphones and other equipment have been placed by professionals”
    professional what? A business model,
    that sells fear.
    A company who won’t tell the public what the capabilities of the microphones are without a court order.
    Who won’t answer their phone.
    Who misleads the public, and city council into thinking these things work.
    Please show your data shotspotter, they use rhetoric not facts.

    “who built those systems, presumably because they know what they are doing.”
    (I presumed that, then I did my own reseach)

    For others to suggest changes that suit their whim or they are receiving signals from their aluminum foil hats is not a valid basis to demand changes to their
    system setup. Uneducated claims look to me like Barbarians at the Gate.

    Now your just being insulting. They admit they store recordings. They’ve been “caught” recording conversations. IF you don’t understand that this IS Illegal,
    then you need to read the laws, like california penal code. If you are OK with the “infringement ” of your rights. No matter how small, then that’s on you.
    I have the right to stick up for the my rights. Even though I get lied to and called names, The facts are the facts. YOu can talk yourself into
    being ok with that, but I don’t. You can just believe what the company tells you and Oakland.

    Read this.

    632. (a) Every person who, intentionally and without the consent of
    all parties to a confidential communication, by means of any
    electronic amplifying or recording device, eavesdrops upon or records
    the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried
    on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a
    telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be
    punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars
    ($2,500), or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year

  17. jim emkey

    Oakie, As much as I like this information to be shared on here. I don’t want to derail this CF story on Oakland local anymore.

    I would love to continue this conversation. I think we are probably on the same page in a lot of respects. Email me, or in my inbox on my youtube channel.

    I’d love to get this into some type of forum, where we could thoroughly discuss some of this type of stuff. I am very interested in holding the politicians and civil servants of this city accountable and to be transparent.
    WE are their bosses !! -cheers.


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