I was stunned to read Oakland City Council's stance reversal on Domain Awareness Center. I thought there was general consensus on crime in Oakland.
The ACLU's Linda Lye asked why "a project about port security contains surveillance from across the city." The answer is very clear: Oakland is synonymous with crime.
Depending on which survey you refer to, Oakland remains on the list of the "Top Five Most Dangerous Cities in the Nation" for the past decade or so.
It doesn't help that Oakland has a police department that is severely understaffed and under-resourced. Each detective handles an average of 20 cases per year, more than the effective rate of five cases per year. This naturally prompts the question: How can city officials help abate crime if they cannot immediately resolve issues of staffing and resources? Here's where DAC can be put to good use.
To be sure, there is potential for abuse but this is where the City Council comes in. Just as they can develop proposals that become policy, council members can also refine these proposals to mitigate potential for abuse. Surely a balance can be struck between privacy concerns and crime abatement.
We have to have a solutions-oriented City Council if we ever hope to address endemic violence in Oakland. If the concern is invasion of privacy, I believe that if one has nothing to hide, then one has nothing to fear.
After all, once you step out of your house, everyone can see you irrespective of presence of cameras. It's not like cameras will be installed inside your house.
Of course, we have to exercise common sense in the matter of surveillance. Perhaps if Oakland isn't consistently ranked the second- or third-most violent city in the U.S., perhaps if the ratio of police officer to resident is better than 1:638, perhaps if the city doesn't have an abysmally low crime-solve rate, then, yes, I'd ask why does Oakland need to integrate surveillance from parts of the city to the DAC.
Paramedic Quinn Boyer was shot and killed in 2013, a crime partially caught on camera. That's why the perpetrator is now on trial for his transgressions.
Isn't it time Oakland City Council helps an overburdened, overworked OPD? Isn't it time to actually do something about crime abatement?
Is privacy more important than public safety in a violent city like Oakland? More important than giving OPD the help it desperately needs and homicide victims the justice they deserve?
Before answering, please note that I once shared those privacy concerns. Consider this:
The person who made you laugh the most, the only person who loved you unconditionally, the person who made you smell his stinky feet, the one who made your heart burst with such pride and joy because of his humanity, the person who explained the rules of basketball to you, the one who sang "What a Wonderful World" to you and brought out the best in you.
Imagine this person who made you happy for nearly 23 years, the love of your life shot an hour before his birthday for trying to do the right thing.
Imagine never hearing his voice calling you "mom" and never seeing his smiling face again.
Imagine this before saying your right to privacy is more important than my son's right to justice.
Maria Climaco, an Emeryville resident, is the mother of Aya Nakano, who was killed June 12, 2013, as he drove home from a pickup basketball game.