Published in Oakland Local, May 29, 2012

Pastor Billy Dixon Jr. believes in Oakland’s 100 Block Initiative.

“This isn’t a fly by night program,” said Dixon as he stood inside the Oakland City Hall. “It has community input and it has the potential to be something really positive for our city.”

Since Oakland Mayor Jean Quan launched the 100 Block initiative to combat city violence in January, Dixon said his church, At Thy Word Ministries, has been active in trying to make the plan a success.

“We’ve walked with Chief Howard Jordan and the mayor through the 100 Blocks,” he said. “We’ve handed out fliers and talked to the community. This plan can work, but we need everyone in the city to become more involved and give it a chance.”

The plan, which uses a combination of law enforcement measures and community programs to try and curb violence in some of Oakland’s toughest neighborhoods, has come under heavy criticism. Some community members say it’s too vague, while some elected officials believe the plan is unsustainable.

Last night, a City Council public safety subcommittee heard a report from Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan about the initiative. Jordan said that after 90 days, he believes the 100 Block plan has been a success.

But, despite Jordan’s confidence, many critics say any success has come at a steep cost. The initiative has especially been criticized by some Oakland hills residents who have seen a surge in burglaries. In fact major crimes – homicides, robberies and burglaries – are up 21 percent compared with this same time last year. And now Oakland police have returned the extra officers that were redeployed to the 100 Blocks back to their original beats.

Residents in the flatlands, where the city sees most of its violence, say there are life and death issues occurring in the 100 Block area.

“The people in the hills are complaining about burglaries and we’re trying to save lives,” Dixon said. “This is a problem that everybody doesn’t seem to understand. We’re never going to get Oakland to the place it needs to be if we don’t start saving lives.”

At the public safety committee meeting Tuesday evening, Council members offered tentative support for the 100 Block Plan.

Councilman Larry Reid said that while he won’t block the plan’s progress, he thinks the plan is bound  to fail.

“I don’t believe the 100 Block Plan will work,” Reid said during the meeting. “I don’t think it will work because we won’t be able to sustain it.”

Reid said that some residents in his council district are now discussing the possibility of hiring armed security guards to patrol neighborhoods.

“It is scary in Oakland and I’m not afraid to say it,” he said.