OAKLAND -- Dimond District residents met with Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley to discuss her office's role in reducing neighborhood crime.
The Dimond Branch Library event on Sept. 4, sponsored by the Dimond Improvement Association, featured discussions of human trafficking, gun possession, burglaries and home invasions that have plagued the neighborhood.
The District Attorney's Office is made up of 155 attorneys, as well as 65 sworn officers, many of whom are former Oakland police officers, and 130 administrative employees. The office has an annual budget of $58 million.
O'Malley explained how her office works with the Oakland Police Department, assisting the department's ranks in investigating crimes, and helping the department prioritize cases. Current practices focus on realignment, which seeks to rehabilitate criminals, instead of punishing them for their crimes.
O'Malley pointed out innovative programs created by her department, as well as her ability to obtain grants that have set her office apart at the state and federal level. She touted the formation of the Family Justice Center that houses 20 agencies, providing social services aimed at helping the victims of domestic violence under one roof.
A program is also in place for convicted criminals to pay restitution to their victims. The state Department of Corrections collects as much as $1 million a month in restitution. However, the department can't always locate the victims to pay them the money. In addition, O'Malley said, Alameda County is the first district attorney's office to employ victim advocates.
Janet Huff was the victim of a home invasion this past June. She worked with a victim advocate and testified before a judge to provide sufficient evidence for an arrest of the suspect that invaded her home, but she hasn't heard from authorities since then, and has been unable to obtain information about her case.
"I don't have a lot of faith in Oakland's crime-solving ability," Huff said.
O'Malley said that her office has tried 112 felony cases and 160 misdemeanor cases this year, with a 98 percent conviction rate for homicides, a 90 percent conviction rate for other felonies, and a 70 percent conviction rate for misdemeanors.
Dimond resident John Olsen said he was attacked by an aggressive panhandler, who he said pulled a knife on him. He said the suspect jumped bail and was rearrested for possession of crack cocaine. Olsen said he heard that the District Attorney's Office has decided to drop all the charges against the suspect, who is back on the streets.
"I caught a guy on parole with a gun shooting rounds into the air," said Raymond Malonson, a Dimond resident. Malonson was able to collect the bullet shells.
"I was frustrated that no one (from the police) ever came," Olson said. "No one ever got back to me. I had (finger) prints."