Reality Contradicts Calls for Defunding

Reality Contradicts Calls for Defunding

It could be more than a coincidence that Alameda Police Department (APD) Chief Paul Rolleri included in his retirement announcement that he “had made the personal decision to retire back in January” of 2020. The announcement goes on to mentions Mali Watkins, George Floyd and an APD directive to stop responding to “calls concerning mental health issues.”

A recent letter to the editor questions a proposal to defund APD’s budget by up to 42 percent and points out that APD has gone from 100 sworn officers to about 30 percent fewer officers. This letter warns city leaders about their desire “to follow the (vociferous) mob and score cheap political points” and to ultimately saddle residents of Alameda “with the inevitable wave of criminality.

If this vision is correct, not all of us will have the option of scrambling out of our evolving high-crime zone and relocating to safe, secure and sanitized, gated communities like Rossmoor, with its chain-link perimeter fence surmounted by high-voltage concertina wire, anti-intrusion devices, private mercenary army, passport control gates and prohibitively high prices. City Hall is handed an implicit mandate to fix the potholes and keep the city safe.

There seems to be a contradiction between defunding APD and surfacing evidence that there is trouble in Estuary City. On June 22, APD issued an alert “advising the public to stay alert to their surroundings after receiving multiple reports of victims being followed home and robbed after leaving local Alameda banks.” That alert warned about a “series of robberies being investigated by APD’s Violent Crimes Unit."

Violent crimes in halcyon Alameda? The alert recommended that the people of Alameda should “Avoid walking alone during late-night hours. Keep entry points to homes or businesses illuminated. Utilize well-lit and heavily traveled paths at night. If you become a victim of a robbery, do not resist. Give up your property. Retreat into your home or business and secure all doors and windows until the officers arrive on the scene.”

“Do not resist. Give up your property. Retreat into your homes. Yipers! APD’s warnings effectively negated nearly 50 percent of the very reasons for living in Alameda. For example, in the week ending Sunday, June 14, … 25 cars were stolen in Alameda.

The Sun’s July 31 front page carried the headline “East End Neighbors Are Fed up with Speeders.” The neighbors lamented that Fernside Boulevard has lost much of its former traffic enforcement. They complained that an officer responding to a traffic mishap “arrived and took a report on scene about 30 minutes after the incident, too late to apprehend the (reckless) driver.” They called for other protective measures on Fernside” and hope that APD will step up traffic enforcement in the area.

Maybe my plodding Socratic mind or lockstep Aristotelian logic is befuddling and shorting-out my cognitive synapses, but it seems that we are demanding enhanced police services and quicker response times amid the hue and cry for a possible 42 percent budget cut to APD and a de facto 30 percent cut in the number of APD’s sworn officers.

As the Rolling Stones tried to warn us: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you just mind find, you get what you need,” or worse, what you asked for. With this much crime and chaos, one can only ask: Where are the social workers when you need them the most?

LCDR Jeffrey R. Smith, U.S. Navy (Ret.), teaches mathematics at Encinal High School.