OAKLAND, Calif. - An Oakland councilmember is urging the city to consider multiple proposals to address a jump in crime.
"We can't just do the things we've always been doing. Even those will continue, we have to do more," Councilman Dan Kalb said.
Kalb is advocating for increased hiring and retention of 911 dispatchers, recruitment of police officers from other departments, funding for surveillance cameras, and seeking assistance from outside agencies like the FBI.
He does not believe it is necessary for the city to declare a state of emergency.
"I'm focusing on things that are actually tangible, things that actually move things forward, not just things on paper that sound good," said Kalb.
Kalb introduced a resolution to prioritize public safety at Tuesday's special City Council meeting. The meeting started at 2 p.m. but by 10 o'clock, they still had not taken up the issue Kalb introduced.
Kalb represents North Oakland, where two recent robberies were captured on camera. In one video, two men confronted a woman in her 60s near Claremont and Hillegass avenues in broad daylight on September 13. The video shows the suspects struggling with the woman as she screams while holding on to her bags.
A witness who chose to remain anonymous told KTVU he came outside to help when he heard the commotion.
"She was screaming, and they were dragging her across the sidewalk, and then dragging her into the street," the man recounted.
The suspects fled the scene in a white Infiniti G37.
"It's infuriating, it's scary, it makes us all want to take action, but it also makes me feel helpless," the man said.
Two weeks prior, on September 1, another woman was similarly confronted by two robbers in the same neighborhood. Those perpetrators fled in an older model Toyota Camry.
Kalb expressed his outrage, stating, "Any violent crime is horrendous. And when someone is attacked and dragged, wherever it is, it's unacceptable."
Cat Brooks, the executive director of the Anti Police-Terror Project, contends that the city should invest in social services rather than increasing police presence.
"We keep getting on the exact same rat wheel and expecting different results," Brooks said. "The only thing we haven't done are the progressive policies. The only thing we haven't done is make sure that people have housing, jobs, education, and mental and emotional support."
Kalb said he's focusing on actual tangible things that will move things forward, "not just something on paper that will sound good."
Local resident Zeva Williams acknowledged the crime issue but emphasized that people should not feel afraid to enjoy Oakland.
"We don't feel there's really that kind of fear, where you have to stay behind your door, look around everywhere because somebody's coming. It doesn't feel ominous," she said.
Tuesday's city council meeting was a full house. People expressed their passion, anger and frustration over public safety. Residents at the meeting demanded action to improve conditions, but what needs to be done, depends on who's talking.
"Increasing policing isn't proven to create safer cities, but it's proven to [disproportionately harm] communities of color," said one woman seemingly agreeing with what Brooks had to say.
Another public commenter questioned Kalb's approach. "It's not effective. It's slow and it's not accountable. It lacks urgency. It asks only for six reports by Decebmer 2023. By then 30 more people will be dead from homicides," said Tim Gardner of Oakland.
Critics say the resolution does not identify a funding source and that there are no consequences if nothing comes out of it.
One man who attended the meeting told KTVU he served time as a young adult for shooting and injuring someone. He said he wants funding for youth programs aimed at preventing violence.
"You can't get a job, you need money, you're dealing with adult issues. No one understands. Sometimes the playing field is not fair," said Jerry Law.
The city council is scheduled to vote on Kalb's resolution sometime Tuesday night.
Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at Henry.Lee@fox.com and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and www.facebook.com/henrykleefan.