Worried Starbucks employees in Oakland are painstakingly warning customers not to leave their laptops unattended. The New Year’s Eve homicide of a man in Oakland’s Montclair District who was attempting to stop the theft of his laptop from a Starbucks coffee shop has rattled Councilmember Sheng Thao’s constituents.

Oakland beatThao is holding a public safety town hall on Thursday, Jan. 9, to help alleviate some of the fears in the Oakland Hills district. The town hall begins at 7 p.m. at the Montclair Presbyterian Church on 5701 Thornhill Drive.

But in the meantime, Thao said Friday she will propose a city council policy to keep Oakland police officer on their local walking beats.

“Oakland is a beautiful place to live, but tragedies like this remind us of the work we have to make it safer,” Thao said.

Thao Sheng
Oakland Councilmember Sheng Thao.

The potential policy directive, however, could be difficult to put into practice. The Oakland Police Department is understaffed and is feeling further strain by the city’s worsening homelessness crisis.

Thao, who was elected to the Oakland City Council in 2018, acknowledges the push-pull of the situation.

“I’ve seen that many Officers are being taken away from their areas of policing for non-emergency special projects such as homeless encampment cleanups.” Thao said. “It’s important to me that our limited police resources are used to protect and serve our communities.”