Oakland, a city that has been struggling with rising crime rates and a shortage of police officers, has missed a crucial opportunity to receive millions of dollars in state funding to combat organized retail theft. The city failed to submit its application for the Organized Retail Theft Prevention Grant by the deadline and was disqualified from the program.
The grant, which was part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Real Public Safety Plan, allocated $267 million to 55 cities and counties across California. The funds were intended to help local law enforcement agencies and community partners collaborate on strategies to prevent and prosecute retail crime, which has been plaguing many businesses in the state.
According to the Board of State and Community Corrections, which administered the grant program, Oakland did not submit its proposal by the July 7 deadline due to technical issues. The board’s legal counsel determined that Oakland did not meet the necessary requirements for a successful application submission and was therefore not eligible for funding consideration.
People in Oakland are really upset about the city’s messed up grant application:
This news came as a shock and disappointment to many Oakland residents and business owners, who have been calling for more action from the city’s leadership to address public safety and retail crime issues. Oakland has seen a surge in violent crimes, homicides, carjackings, burglaries, and robberies in recent months.
Many businesses have also reported being targeted by organized groups of shoplifters, who often use force or weapons to escape with stolen merchandise. Some of the critics of the city’s leadership include Seneca Scott, the founder of Neighbors Together Oakland, a grassroots movement to make the city safer.
Scott said that missing out on the grant was an “inexcusable missed opportunity” and a sign that the city was not focused on public safety. He said that the city should be held accountable for its failure to secure the funds. Another critic was Ravi Kakkar, the owner of a 7-Eleven store that was hit twice by shoplifters last month.
Kakkar said that he was frustrated by the increase in crime and urged the city officials to take stronger action. He said that he felt unsafe and unsupported by the city. Some business owners, however, tried to remain optimistic and hopeful that other sources of funding might be available.
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Dottie Moore, the co-owner of Everett and Jones BBQ, said that she loved Oakland and did not want to let the crime run her away from the place. She said that she hoped that the city would find other ways to support the businesses and improve public safety.
The city administrator’s office issued a statement acknowledging that the outcome was unacceptable and promising to review what happened and take appropriate action. The statement said that the Economic & Workforce Development Department (EWDD) staff collaborated with the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and community partners to put together an application, but did not complete the submission in time.
The statement said that OPD and the community partners provided their material on time. The statement did not explain why EWDD did not submit the application on time or what technical issues prevented them from doing so.
It also did not specify what action would be taken to prevent such a mistake from happening again or what alternative plans would be pursued to obtain funding for retail crime prevention.
The missed deadline is another blow for Oakland, which has been without a permanent police chief since February when Chief LeRonne Armstrong was fired for his handling of a police misconduct investigation. The city is also facing a budget deficit of over $300 million and a lawsuit from the federal government over its use of force policies.
While Oakland did not qualify for the Organized Retail Theft Prevention Grant, some other Bay Area cities and counties did receive funding from the program. These include San Francisco, San Jose, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Fremont, Modesto, Santa Rosa, and others. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office also received $2 million from another grant program for vertical prosecution of retail theft cases.