Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson
McElhaney and Larry Reid, below, want to
create a city department to stop homicides.

While gun violence continues to be a perennial problem in Oakland, two councilmembers believe one solution is to create a city department dedicated to violence prevention and services for those affected by violent crime.

Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Council President Larry Reid will offer legislation at Tuesday’s Life Enrichment Committee meeting to create a Department of Violence Prevention. “The mission of the [Department of Violence Prevention] is to work to dramatically reduce violent crime and to serve communities impacted by violence to end cycles of trauma.” says the resolution.

Crime statistics show gun violence disproportionately affects young African American men in Oakland. Last year, tragedy hit McElhaney and her family following the murder of 17-year-old Torian Hughes, a young man she helped raise and who she referred to as a “grandson.”

In recent years, Oakland’s city government has grown. For instance, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf created a city Department of Transportation last year, while the City Council approved Councilmember Desley Brooks’ Department of Race and Equity.

The creation of yet another branch of bureaucracy in Oakland could be costly. McElhaney and Reid’s initial proposal, though, provides scant specifics other than it aims to create a director-level position and folding in Measure Z resources into the department. In 2014, Oakland voters approved Measure Z, a parcel tax intended to bolster public safety and fire services.

The councilmember’s proposal suggests Measure Z initiatives are not working due to the continuous number of homicides in Oakland. With about eight years before Measure Z sunsets, says the resolution, “The City must act now to show a breakthrough in reducing violent crime.”