Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan's September 13, 2021, E-Blast
At tomorrow’s Public Safety Committee, we will receive an update on the status of launching Oakland’s emergency civilian responder program, Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland (MACRO). I, along with my Council colleagues, call on the City Administration for the speedy implementation of this important public safety service as an in-house program and to include meaningful community input and involvement, as was previously directed by the Council to include a community oversight board.
The implementation of this program is highly awaited and urgently needed, as the goal is to provide services to those experiencing non-violent crises. A Community Intervention Specialist, Emergency Medical Technician, and a Case Manager would respond to non-violent crisis calls, rather than a police officer; this would simultaneously free police to respond to violent crimes.
In 2019, the idea of this program was presented as part of my budget proposal, with strong grassroots community backing, and an informational memo brought by Councilmember Noel Gallo. That same year, I successfully allocated the funding for the feasibility study of creating this civilian mobile response program in my budget amendments (Link). The City Council then approved $1.85 million in the FY 2020-21 Mid Cycle Budget Amendments (88174 CMS) to implement the proposed program. On December 15, 2020, my resolution to pursue the option for in-house hiring process for MACRO was adopted (88433 CMS). In 2020, the City Council, along with strong community support pushed to fund the launching of the pilot. With the goal of improving coordination, response, and creating job opportunities for the communities in which MACRO will be launched, Council along with community grass-roots organizations called on the program to be launched as an internal city program.
Earlier this year, Councilmember Noel Gallo and President Pro Tem Sheng Thao advocated to have the program in-house within the Oakland Fire Department (OFD). Council President Bas and Councilmember Dan Kalb introduced the resolution that was unanimously adopted by Council directing the establishment of MACRO within OFD and creating an Advisory Board, which would consist of crisis health service experts, individuals impacted by the criminal legal system, unsheltered individuals, domestic violence survivors, youth, and/or survivors of state violence, to serve as advisory partners to the Oakland Fire Department in further developing MACRO. During the development of the City Council’s budget amendments for 2021-2023, additional support for MACRO was added by a strong 6-2 vote.
The State of California has shown their support of MACRO by responding to my advocacy letter (LINK) asking for funding; Senator Skinner included $10 million dollars for the launch of MACRO in the State Budget. Meanwhile, other cities have successfully launched similar programs. For example, Olympia, WA, Portland, OR, and Albuquerque, NM have undertaken similar programs using in-house staffing models to provide civilian response. Tomorrow, the Oakland City Council will continue to advocate on behalf of the Oakland community -- demanding a civilian response to non-violent calls for those in crisis, allowing police to respond to violent emergency calls.
Thanks to strong grassroots advocacy working together with Council members, we were able to pass the proposal to launch civilian responders for Oakland, and to win funding in both the City budget and State budget to support this vital public need. We know that this type of program can save dollars and save lives -- and the Oakland community needs and deserves this effective response. We call on the administration to launch it timely and effectively, and include vital community input, to ensure success.
“It’s urgent that the Administration implement MACRO, Oakland’s mobile crisis response program in the Fire Department. Oaklanders agree that we need medical professionals and crisis responders to address mental health and other non-violent issues, allowing police to focus on violent crime,” said Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas. “Our budget made historic investments in alternative crisis response and violence prevention. Now is the time to implement these programs and to follow through on Council direction to create a representative community advisory board to the Fire Department to ensure MACRO is developed with the expertise of the most impacted communities,” Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, District 2 Representative.
Noel Gallo, Councilmember District 5, “I am thankful for my colleagues on the council who supported launching MACRO in-house in the fire department. Working together we can provide effective civilian responders to provide community needs, and to handle low-level calls that do not require a police officer.”
Council President Pro Temp Sheng Thao, “The City Council committed to its goals to reimagine public safety with the funding of the MACRO program, and I join my colleagues and the community in urging the City Administration to implement this important emergency response program. Oakland cannot wait for this common sense and holistic approach to public safety any longer.”
September 14, 2021, 1:30PM Public Safety Committee Zoom Meeting Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87171430933