The Oakland Gang Task Force, that was the much talked about unit of the City of Oakland's Police Department in the Discovery television series "Oakland Gang Wars", has been disbanded.
In fact, this action happened just about a month ago according to sources who do not wish to be named. The reason for the action is a combination of budget cutting and political infighting out of the view of Oakland's City Council.
Reportedly, but I offer this is not the exact explanation and only a caricature of entire story, the eight-person unit had one officer who was not well liked by the commanding sergeant, who wanted him reassigned. The other officers involved like and respect the officer and so disagreed with the planned removal. That set in motion a number of actions, some involving high level OPD execs, that my sources did not fully disclose but had something to do with the eventual end of the task force.
The officers which made up the group were reassigned to the narcotics beat.
I was told that the Oakland Gang Task Force did such a good job that even the criminals they caught pointed to their fairness and professionalism in their work. No, I'm not kidding when I write that. (As a point of information, I'm told that in Oakland, the estimate of 10,000 gang members may be an undercount.)
Many of the group officers are Oaklanders and former gang members themselves, who understand how that way of life works and how to navigate within it. They truly care about Oakland and reportedly conducted their work in that way.
While political infighting and budget cuts doomed the Oakland Gang Task Force, one may aak if the recent $10.8 million grant from the Obama Administration helped. I'm told it did, in that it caused Oakland to be able to retain all of the recently hired officers.
The unfair system
Some have written that the Oakland gang effort targets black neighborhoods in our city. I do agree because the other part of the problem is the demand for drugs in areas that have the resources and are mostly white but go "unpoliced". In fact, I'm told the former members of the Oakland Gang Task Force state that's a large problem.
The answer may be to increase police activity in areas of demand, perhaps even to home inspections with a search warrant. What that would do over time is wake up the population to the severity of the gang and drug problem.
But - and I'm willing to bet - that some would claim cocaine is used for medicinal purposes, and push for the legalization and taxation of its use.
I'm being "tongue-in-cheek" here to a degree, but look folks, it's really an out-of-whack society that punishes one group with arrests for selling drugs, the poor and minority, and rewards the other group with freedom of use of drugs, the rich and white.
Fortunately, Oakland's finest agree with me.