Oakland defunded police, now feeling the effects of it

AP Photo/Ben Margot

Oakland, California may not be San Francisco, but they’re not all that different from their sister city in the Bay Area when it comes to politics.

In 2020, when people started screaming “defund the police,” the leadership in Oakland were among the first in the nation to look at the mob and say, “K!”


Well, they did, and now they’re getting what they asked for. They’re getting it good and hard.

Oakland is often touted as the “bright side of the Bay” because of its sunny skies and moderate year round temperatures. But a rise in violent crime has cast a dark shadow on the 430,000 people who call Oakland home.

Your chance of being a victim of violent crime in Oakland, California is 1 in 77, nearly three times higher than the state of California at large, according to a statistical analysis of FBI crime data by NeighborhoodScout.com.

“The violent crime rate (in Oakland) is one of the highest in the nation,” NeighborhoodScout.com reports. The site’s data comparison with other cities found 99% of other cities are safer than Oakland. NeighborScout.com gave Oakland a rating of “1” on a scale of 1-100 for safety, with 100 being the safest rating possible for a city.

In November, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said, “There is nothing progressive about unbridled gun violence.” Her comment came after a retired police officer working as a security guard for a San Francisco TV station was shot and killed while in the city. Two other people were killed in Oakland the same weekend in November.

Schaaf and Oakland’s eight city council members were among the first group of elected officials in major U.S. cities to support the “defund the police” movement after the death of George Floyd and protests that followed. In late 2021, Schaaf and council members backtracked on many of their plans, as violent crime continued to escalate.


Funny how that shakes out, ain’t it?

If only someone had told them this kind of thing would happen. I mean, we did, but they’re a “progressive city,” so they weren’t interested in listening to those of us who stand on the other side of the ideological divide, even if we actually study this kind of stuff.

The thing is, you can’t defund a department and then refund them and it not take time to build things back up to where they were. You just can’t do it. It’s just not how it works. Ripping funding from a department creates holes that can’t be filled back in nearly so easily.

As a result, Oakland and the people there are suffering.

Part of me just wants to point and laugh. If not for the fact that real people are being impacted, I probably would. Schadenfreude is a thing, after all. However, people are being hurt and while the people of Oakland may have voted for the people who did this, I can’t take joy in innocent people being hurt.

My hope is that this creates a lesson, one that can be taken to heart the next time “defund the police” comes back around, and that’s how this is a stupid idea.


Seriously, if you want to deal with police brutality, you don’t cut funding for departments. You increase funding for training so that kind of thing doesn’t keep happening. You create accountability for officers and you make damn sure it’s held to.

Instead, though, Oakland just went with the herd and now they’re paying the price.

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