Law Enforcement & Crime

Friday, March 21, 2014

Oakland to Pay $4.5 million to Iraq War Vet Scott Olsen

by Ali Winston
Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 7:31 AM

The City of Oakland has agreed to pay a $4.5 million legal settlement to Scott Olsen, the 24-year-old Marine Corps veteran who was critically wounded by Oakland Police on the night of October 25, 2011 during a chaotic confrontation between law enforcement and Occupy Oakland demonstrators. Police had evicted the Occupy Oakland encampment from Frank Ogawa Plaza that morning, prompting thousands of people to return to downtown that afternoon.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

California Offers Financial Aid to Rape Victims Previously Denied Due to Sex Work

by Sam Levin
Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Last year, the California Victim Compensation Program made headlines when it scrapped a regulation that barred the state from helping victims of violence who were involved in prostitution. This discrimination against sex workers had sparked intense criticisms of the state program, which provides financial aid to victims of violent crimes (and was the subject of a recent Express series).

Today, three months after the program eliminated the controversial regulation, the state announced that it has reversed more than a dozen of its past denials — meaning a group of victims who were previously rejected will now get the financial support they had originally requested.

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Oakland Council Pushes for Smartphone Kill Switches

by Elly Schmidt-Hopper
Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 12:52 PM

This week, the Oakland City Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of California Senate Bill 962 (SB 962). If passed, the law will require that all smartphones and tablets sold in the state include a kill switch. The resolution was introduced by Councilmember Dan Kalb, who began advocating for a state law requiring kill switches last year.

“The goal of SB 962 is to eliminate the lure that smartphones and other devices present to thieves by eliminating their resale value, which will help to reduce the epidemic of armed robberies,” Kalb said in a press release. Kalb was robbed of his smartphone at gunpoint in 2012 in North Oakland.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Car Use Slows in California As Walking and Biking Accelerates; Court Deals Major Blow to Brown’s Tunnels Plan

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Californians, especially young people, are driving less, and instead are walking, biking, or taking mass transit more often, the LA Times$ reports, citing a new study commissioned by Caltrans. The rate of Californians driving slowed by 12 percent in the past decade, as the rate of residents who walk, bike, or take transit accelerated to 22 percent. The percentage of households that reported not having a car also increased 8 percent. Nationwide, the percentage of teens and people in their twenties and thirties who have chosen not to get driver’s licenses also has been growing.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: Oakland Police Chief Recruiter Fired for Discriminating Against Gays and Lesbians; Berkeley Council Puts Student District Map on Ballot

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland city officials fired the firm that was in charge of recruiting a new police chief because it discriminates against gays and lesbians, the Trib$ reports. The city’s decision to terminate the contract with the International Association of Police Chiefs could further delay a decision to hire a new chief or give Interim Chief Sean Whent the job permanently. This was the second police chief recruiting firm that has left Oakland. The International Association of Police Chiefs does not offer benefits to domestic partners of gay and lesbian employees — in violation of city policy.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Smartphone Kill Switch Legislation Moves Forward in Sacramento

by Elly Schmidt-Hopper
Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 2:29 PM

During the next several weeks, the California Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications will consider legislation requiring all handheld mobile devices sold in the state to include a “kill switch.” Senate Bill 962 (SB 962), co-authored by State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), would require all “advanced mobile communications devices” to include software or hardware technology that could remotely render a stolen device inoperable.

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Thursday Must Reads: Quan to Unveil New 10k Plan for Oakland; State Lawmakers Consider Reforms of Gifts and Donations Rules

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Mayor Jean Quan plans to unveil a new 10k plan tonight at her state of the city address that would seek to add 10,000 new residents to Oakland, the Chron reports. Quan’s proposal follows in the footsteps of Jerry Brown’s successful 10k plan that brought roughly 10,000 new residents to downtown, Uptown, and the Jack London district in the past decade. Quan is looking to add new smart-growth housing throughout the city along transit major corridors. The city currently is facing a housing shortage, as more residents are being priced out of San Francisco.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Oakland City Council Rolls Back the Domain Awareness Center

by Ali Winston
Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Early this morning, the Oakland City Council voted to drastically reduce the scope of the Domain Awareness Center by restricting the controversial project to the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport, instead of having it cover the entire city. The original blueprint of the federally funded surveillance center would have merged CCTV footage, gunshot detectors, license plate readers, news feeds, and first responder communication systems into a centralized, live-monitored facility.

Privacy advocates first raised the alarm over the Oakland surveillance center last summer when plans were announced to integrate controversial technologies such as automated license plate readers and video feeds from city traffic cameras, the Oakland Unified School District, the Oakland Housing Authority, the Oakland Coliseum, and regional transit agencies. The lack of a privacy policy or data retention guidelines — which, as of yesterday, still had not been created — also raised concerns about storing information on the whereabouts of Oakland residents and sharing it with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

As the Express previously reported, there were other questions about the privacy, legal, and budgetary risks presented by the Domain Awareness Center — for example, the initial contractor had a history of fraud, the city's intention was to use the DAC to monitor protests rather than the stated purpose of fighting violent crime, and the project’s costs to city taxpayers was undisclosed

Protesters at last night's city council meeting. - ALI WINSTON
  • Ali Winston
  • Protesters at last night's city council meeting.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Oakland Neighborhoods Turn to Private Surveillance Cameras; Jerry Brown Hints At Running for Mayor of Oakland in 2018

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A growing number of Oakland neighborhoods are installing private security cameras to keep an eye on potential robbers and burglars, the Chron reports. The video cameras, however, also raise privacy concerns and questions as to how long neighborhood groups will keep the surveillance video and who will have access to it.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Must Reads: PG&E Wants to Raise Rates on Low-Income Residents; Mentally Ill Man Gets 15 Years for Fake Bomb Plot

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. PG&E is proposing to raise rates on customers who don’t use much energy, which includes many low-income residents in the Bay Area. The Trib$ reports that PG&E also wants to reduce rates for people who use lots of energy, which tend to be wealthy residents with large homes. The utility contends that the big energy users are paying more than their fare share, and that people who conserve energy need to pay higher rates. PG&E’s proposal, which is headed to the state Public Utilities Commission, thanks to a bill, AB 327, signed into law by Governor Brown last year despite strong opposition from environmental groups.

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