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Pamela Price is the wrong choice for Alameda County District Attorney

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Eight of the ten points in Pamela Price’s political platform for the upcoming District Attorney race in Alameda County are direct attacks on cops. If you know the language of anti-copspeak, you can see how radically she would undermine their ability to do their job, which is to protect us.

Here are her ten points:

  1. End Mass Incarceration
  2. Stop Criminalizing Our Youth
  3. Eliminate Use of the Death Penalty
  4. Protect Immigrant Communities
  5. Hold Police Accountable
  6. Reduce Gun Violence
  7. End Illegal Stop and Frisk Practices
  8. Promote Transparency and Reform
  9. Implement Smart Public Safety Measures
  10. Protect and Free the Innocent

You hear a lot of anti-copspeak in Alameda County (which includes Berkeley and Oakland, my town). I usually scratch my head and wonder what they’re thinking. At their worst, these anti-cop activists actually call for defunding the Oakland Police Department. As insane as this proposal is—no cops in Oakland? Really?—some well-meaning people are buying into it. Recently, a few local churches have taken the extraordinary step of announcing that they will no longer call the police, “even for violent crimes,” in a move they call “divesting” from the police department.

When I heard that, I thought, Fine. Don’t call the cops the next time somebody sprays graffiti all over your church, or robs your collection box, or mugs your parishioners, or takes up illegal residence in your pews. Less protection for you means more protection for those of us who realize that our safety and property, and possibly our lives, is only one thin blue line away from vanishing.

And now, here comes Price with the mother of all anti-cop platforms. It’s impossible to tell if she really believes this stuff, or is just appealing to a certain angry base, which plays to the far Left the same way that Breitbart and Fox play to the far Right. Oakland happens to be a very dangerous town. Oakland has the 17th highest murder rate among U.S. cities. NBC News, quoting FBI statistics, reported a few years ago that Oakland is “the most crime-ridden city in California,” and while the crime rate has gone down a little since then (due to an improving economy), it remains a dangerous place: the average Californian has one chance in 225 of being the victim of a crime, while in Oakland, he or she has a one in 69 chance.

So why would anyone be in favor of de-policing such a violent city? People like Pamela Price, who’s Black, seem to harbor a deep-seated grudge against police, even though the majority of crimes against Black people are committed by Black people. When I hear the phrase “criminalizing our youth” (a standard slogan in anti-copspeak), I wince. Some young people in Oakland (and elsewhere) are feral—and they can be of any race. By “feral” I mean a young person who was not raised to respect the rights of others, but to view criminality as normal. This results in everything from minor offenses (littering) to car window smash-and-grabs to mugging, home invasions, hard drug dealing and gun violence. I would think most law-abiding Oaklanders would want such youths to be swept up into the criminal justice system, where at least we can get them off the streets and try to rehabilitate them. But people like Pamela Price keep the fires of racial resentment stoked.

Another standard part of anti-copspeak is “hold police accountable.” Certainly, I want cops who break the law to be held accountable. But I want everybody who breaks the law to be held accountable! It seems to me that Pamela Price feels that criminals are less of a problem than the cops who are trying to stop them.

I’ve lived in Oakland for more than 30 years. I read the local papers and watch the news, I talk to people, I’m politically engaged, and I know how hard OPD has worked to improve its performance. The department is committed to community policing, to hiring more women and minorities (our new chief is a woman), to increasing transparency, to increasing outreach to the community, to instilling in beat officers a respect for the rights and feelings of citizens. I’m happy to say “Thank you for your service” whenever I encounter a uniformed officer. These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day to protect us.

The ultimate irony in Price’s platform is her call to “reduce gun violence.” Yes, this is something we all ardently hope and pray for. But what does coming down on cops have to do with stopping a criminal from shooting a firearm? Nothing. The ways to reduce gun violence are complicated (I’m in favor of very strict gun control), but surely one solution is for a parent or parents to instill values of respect and obedience to the law in their children. It starts in the home. Cops can’t make up for a lack of proper child-rearing. I’d love to for Price to replace some of her Ten Points with these:

– Work with churches and agencies to reduce out-of-wedlock births among teenaged girls.

– Imbue children with the value of respecting others and obeying the law.

– Teach kids the importance of police forces in protecting us all against crime.

– Ensure that kids graduate from school and obtain a higher education.

Now, those are points I could support.But I’m not hearing them from Pamela Price.

Price is running against the incumbent D.A., Nancy O’Malley. One point of contention between the two women concerns Proposition 47, a 2014 statewide ballot initiative that reclassified some nonviolent felonies as misdemeanors. Price supported it; O’Malley opposed it (as did most police), which earned her the wrath of the anti-cop brigade. The billionaire liberal, George Soros (whose support of Democrats I welcome), poured a lot of money into the pro-47 fight; he also has given Price money. I understand how issues of social justice can get involved in anything and everything having to do with policing and police reform politics. But the answer is not to defund police departments! The answer is not to accuse cops (black, white, brown, whatever) of being pigs. The answer is not to send a message to young people of color that their problems are caused by racist cops. I will be voting for Nancy O’Malley, and urging everybody I know to do the same, so we can bring sane, rational solutions—not incendiary rhetoric—to my city’s problems.

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