A community news source for residents of the HarriOak neighborhood in Oakland, CA.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Five-Year Backlog of Oakland Sex-Crime Investigationgs

The Oakland Trib has an important story today about how a shortage of investigators has created a five-year backlog involving sex-crime cases. The newspaper reports that there are 1,800 open sexual assault cases involving both children and adults.

Here is an excerpt:

"The cases include rapes, molestations, oral copulations and sodomies. Marcia Blackstock, executive director of Bay Area Women Against Rape, or BAWAR, called such offenses, "the most detrimental of crimes that can happen to a living survivor."

In some cases, victims have not been contacted by an investigator in at least a year, and Blackstock said some of the victims she has talked to are so upset they are not willing to cooperate with police. "They don't want to relive that (again)," she said.

The case backlog is just one example of the challenges posed by understaffing in the Oakland Police Department, though police officials claim the problems in the Special Victims Unit, or SVU, can be traced to city leaders' focus on patrol and problem-solving efforts rather than investigations.

Police said the number of open sexual assault cases involving juveniles as of this week was 1,186. Adults were the victims in another 593 open cases.

Besides those 1,779 cases, another 1,516 cases involving other offenses investigated by the Special Victims Unit remain open, officials said. Those include abuse cases, monitoring registered sex offenders and other investigations.

What makes this so horrifying is that Mayor Dellums' push to hire 803 police officers will still do nothing to address the criminal shortage of investigators. HELLO: NO ONE IS AVAILABLE TO INVESTIGATE CRIME IN OAKLAND. This is an issue that City Administrator Deborah Edgerly should have addressed a long time ago. It's Edgerly's job to oversee the police department. But she was apparently too busy making sure Oakland wouldn't have a functioning crime lab. (Not to mention cashing in $60,000 in bonuses and $183,000 in vacation sick pay and management leave.) Crime is skyrocketing again in Oakland and the city is not reporting it on the public Web sites. Numerous crime reports are missing from sites that citizens rely on like oakland.crimespotting.org.

How do we know this? Because there are crimes that we know occurred in HarriOak and for which we've got report numbers that are not listed. Something is dreadfully wrong.

When are we going to get competent and honest city officials? What do we have to do to get some accountability in City Hall?

Please remember to vote on June 3. If you are wondering who to vote for, come to the All Candidates Forum at the First Christian Church on April 27 and talk to folks like Nancy Nadel and Sean Sullivan. This is your chance to ask Nancy, the incumbent, why she hasn't demanded accountability from Deborah Edgerly? Or, how it is possible that the biggest city in the third richest metropolitan area in the wealthiest nation on the planet does not have a functioning police department? Or why her volunteers are calling up voters and claiming that she is responsible for hiring more police officers when this is the awful reality? As for Sean Sullivan, and the multiple at-large candidates, what would they would do differently?

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