OAKLAND, Calif. (BCN)– Oakland city councilmembers voted Tuesday to allocate nearly $780,000 to measures aimed at improving safety in the city this holiday season. The city is giving $464,000 to the Downtown Oakland Association community benefit district to deploy nighttime civilian ambassadors to provide guidance and safety to visitors as well as other efforts.
Those include property security improvements such as the security camera program and for traffic management and street closures. Another $315,000 is going toward the Shop Safe Oakland Initiative to expand the daytime civilian ambassador program, provide grants to store owners to improve security and lighting, and expand coordination between police and commercial organizations.
The City Council voted 5-1 to approve a resolution to allocate the funds. Councilmember Carroll Fife opposed the resolution.
Mayor-elect Sheng Thao and Councilmember Loren Taylor were absent. Last week, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the overall effort, which she introduced at Tuesday’s council meeting.
“Our recovery post-pandemic is so important,” Schaaf said at the announcement. She announced the Welcome Back Downtown Initiative, which is funded by the $464,000 allocation and the $315,000 Shop Safe Oakland Initiative.
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With the Shop Safe initiative, Oakland officials want people to feel safe shopping in person in the city’s neighborhood commercial districts. With the Welcome Back initiative, city officials want people visiting downtown restaurants and bars and workers returning to downtown offices to feel safe.
“We want to create a deep sense of safety for everyone,” Schaaf said. Separately, Oakland police said Monday that they are extending a previous 90-day plan through the end of the year to continue to reduce crime in the city. The plan took effect Sept. 27.
“You will see a higher presence of officers where we know people come to shop, dine, and enjoy our city,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said in a statement. “Also, we will remain laser-focused on addressing homicides and shootings in Oakland.”
Since police enacted the plan, shootings and killings are down. In the 60 days following the plan’s beginning, killings are down by nearly a half compared to the 60 days before the plan started, according to police.
Shootings and slayings are also down this year compared to last year. Slayings are down 13 percent while shootings are down 25 percent, police said.
Police have seized 1,318 guns from city streets so far this year, 119 more than all of the guns seized last year, according to police. The money for the Welcome Back Downtown and Shop Safe Oakland initiatives is coming from savings the city has after budgeting this year for positions it did not fill.
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