Youth Radio’s Bianca Brooks was one of the panelists and the only youth reporter at the table at last night's mayoral candidate debate in Oakland.
Temple Sinai was packed with 400 audience members who came to listen to nine different public safety plans from the mayoral candidates.
The candidates range from a city auditor, to a professor, to a civil rights attorney, to Oakland’s current mayor.
It was clear that all candidates agreed on one thing: in order to restore safety to Oakland, a strong police chief needs to be hired, along with more police officers. Candidate Joe Tuman said if elected, he plans on hiring 300 new officers, and wants to provide new officers with home assistance loans as a tool to help police live in Oakland. Truman didn't mention his plan to cover the cost of new officers and loans.
There were some rough moments, especially at the beginning when Mayor Quan could not hear the first question asked by panelist Brooks on her plans to improve her relationship with Oakland Police department, given the resignation of two police chiefs under the Mayor's term.
Mayor Quan re-phrased the question when repeating it back to Brooks, which caused the crowd to become rather outspoken in an effort to bring the Mayor back on track to answer the original question. Ultimately, Quan didn't, instead replying that she is in the process of finalizing the hiring of the new chief in the next month.
Another moment that caused the crowd to gasp was when candidate Patrick McCullough was asked to respond to a critique of his so-called vigilante shooting of a 15-year-old boy in 2005. Details of the confrontation are unclear, however, McCullough was not charged with a crime.
McCullogh did not apologize for shooting the 15-year-old, and insisted it was done in self-defense.
Some interesting numbers were dropped on the crowd by candidate Joe Tuman and journalists Chip Johnson and Robert Gammon:
1. It cost $180,000, salary and benefits included, to hire a cop.
2. The Oakland Police Department solves less than 30 percent of homicides.
3. OPD has not tested evidence in more than 650 homicides cases, many years back.
4. OPD has 14 investigators in Internal Affairs and 12 investigators in homicide.
Emotions were running high during the debate, and the sentiments transferred over on to Twitter. Below are some of the tweets that caught our eye.
If you missed it, you can catch the full debate here