You'd think the "More Arrests = Less Crime" would be one of those self-evident public policy formulas that resist all but the most blockheaded "cop watch" activist, but you'd be wrong. Witness Oakland, CA, where the City Fathers are expressing bafflement over that city's inexorable rise in crime despite a steep drop-off in arrests.
Oakland police officers made 44 percent fewer arrests last year than they had just three years before, city records show, a plunge in enforcement that extended from armed robbery cases to drug busts to minor crimes like public drunkenness.
That's 6,410 fewer arrests - an average of 18 fewer per day - in a city that has the highest crime rate in the state and, this year, is grappling with a 23 percent spike in murders, muggings and other major offenses.
The drop is so steep it has eased a backlog of cases in Alameda County Superior Court and may be contributing to a shrinking county jail population, officials said.
The arrest figures, obtained under the state's Public Records Act, raise questions about the effectiveness and assertiveness of the Police Department, which is struggling under the weight of job cuts, low morale and the demands of federal court oversight.
Sgt. Chris Bolton, chief of staff to Police Chief Howard Jordan, who took his post in October 2011 following the resignation of Anthony Batts, said arrests were an important tool in crime-fighting but "not the sole answer."
Bolton said a lot of the proactive work that yields arrests - operations that target gangs and drug dealers, for instance - has fallen off as a result of job cuts. More than ever, he said, officers spend their time hustling from one emergency call to the next.
Due to layoffs and attrition, the force has 626 officers, a 25 percent decline from a high of 837 in December 2008. By comparison, San Francisco - which has twice the population of Oakland but 20 percent less violent crime - has 2,164 officers.
"In 2010, we said we needed at least 900 cops to be effective," Bolton said. "The first units to go when we faced staffing reductions were squads that were not tied to calls for service and were designed to address gangs, drugs and guns through proactive enforcement."
In a written statement, Mayor Jean Quan said, "We need to be taking more criminals off the streets, and tackling the problem requires both immediate and long-term solutions," including partnerships with outside agencies.All I can say is, thank God I am a stoopid right-winger and not a liberal. Not that I am calling liberal politicians stupid. They know exactly what kind of line they can peddle to try to explain why it is that crime, which has been quiescent since the Willie Horton days, has come rocketing back. OTH, anyone who believes this stuff deserving of the patenting Free Will Glance of Pitying Scorn.
What liberals are desperate that no one notices is that they are the root cause of rising urban crime, and not because of the culture of dependency bred by the welfare state. Oakland started firing cops because the budget got out of control, and city progressives would rather pay pensions to retired bureaucrats, and pay "grants" to dubious non-profits, rather than police the streets. Add to that the state's determined effort to empty the prisons for the same reasons, and it's not hard to make the connection between an influx of criminals meeting a winnowed police force.
"Luckily" for Oakland's politicos, people would rather march in an anti-cop rally, and bitch about the decade-old "Riders" case, instead of giving the police the minimal resources to do their jobs.