January 6, 2018
Op-Ed by Motecuzoma Sanchez
The Case Against Advance Peace
Everything being sold to the public about Advance Peace is identical to the same sales pitch offered six years ago for the “Marshal Plan”, Operation Ceasefire, the Office of Violence Prevention, and the tax plan funding them- Measure A. After four years in operation and more than $100 million collected in additional sales tax, Stockton is more dangerous. In fact, the occurrences of violent crime have increased every year consecutively since these programs and tax went into effect in 2013.
Everything these programs promised are a mirror image of the Cash for Criminals program known as Advance Peace now being touted; the biggest difference being the monthly cash stipend and all expenses paid trips for suspected violent shooters. The other glaring difference being that at least Ceasefire has had academic studies scrutinizing its effectiveness, Advance Peace has none. It offers no data, no expert testimony, and no evidence of correlation between its existence and crime rates in Richmond, CA-,only anecdotal examples that are easily offset by examples of their “success stories” or “fellows” featured on ABC’s Nightline being arrested for multiple murders, attempted murders, and violent armed robberies conducted while they were in the program.
As a graduate student at USC’s school of public policy I conducted an evaluation of Stockton’s Ceasefire and identified glaring issues I predicted would affect its effectiveness. None of those recommendations were listened to and fours years later the results are one of failure.
Four years later we still don’t have the number of new police officers promised by Measure A and won’t anytime soon. Even Chief Jones publicly admits that. There has also never been an independent audit of the funds collected (some $29 million a year), despite multiple demands for one from Measure A Oversight Committee members.
Four years later the number of homicides (32 in 2013) have increased 71% (55 in 2017).
Four years later the Office of Violence Prevention has seen the controversial firing (and lawsuit) of its original manager, and public resignation of protest from its Community Outreach Coordinator, Denise Manning. It’s budget is more than one million annually which supports mostly top heavy administrators and staff whose greatest achievements include hosting coffee meetings with the public.
Four years later “Marshal Plan” committee members openly question its purpose while others like Pastor Shields resigned in protest.
Four years ago Michael Tubbs campaigned on crime as a councilmember. This was echoed again in his mayoral campaign. He touted himself as the “only one with a plan” to curb crime. His first year as mayor saw homicides increase 11%, rape increase 27%, armed robbery increase 3%, and arsons increase 171%. Since he’s been on the city council, as both councilmember and mayor, 235 Stocktonians have been murdered with minimal arrests or convictions.
As a knee jerk reaction to the rising homicide rates last summer, Tubbs, perhaps with aid of his overly paid personal staffers, found Advance Peace in a Google search, which he himself told the media. Now he’s hung his hat on bringing it to Stockton, which seems more like a stubborn public relations move than a critical introspective on the failures of the current programs. In fact, it can also be interpreted as a referendum and condemnation by the mayor of the very same programs he helped tout five years ago as a candidate and councilmember. Oddly enough he’s not trying to institutionalize Advance Peace into city operations, but control and fund it via his personal non profit Reinvent Stockton.
The only thing he’s asking from the city is to co-sign it via a required four year governmental commitment required by its founder DeVonne Boggan. And in asking councilmembers to co-sign his pet project next council meeting he’s offering no numbers critical to said decision. The biggest questions for them should be what is the city on the hook for should the private funders fall through and what administrative cost to the city will be associated with the program’s implementation? None is offered on the legislative text he is asking councilmembers to approve.
The next logical question then becomes if the “Marshal Plan”, Ceasefire, and the Office of Violence Prevention/Peacekeepers are ineffective causing the need to bring Advance Peace, then why is the public still paying the Measure A sales tax that funds them? It’s one or the other. Perhaps it’s time to repeal Measure A.
Most importantly of all, what becomes of the expectation for justice for the families of victims like three year old Melanie Martinez and seventeen year old Juwan Small? Or Jennie Roeun, the mother of five young children, killed in a mass drive by shooting last month that injured five, killing three? Are we as a just society supposed to allow them to be taunted by allowing a program to now pay their killers and take them on trips to Disneyland that their loved ones will never have the opportunity to?
P.S. The city of Richmond is currently facing several lawsuits regarding Advance Peace brought on by the families of victims killed by its “fellows”. The next hearing is schedule January 19th, ten days after Stockton’s city council will take their vote to adopt or not. Richmond’s homicide rate increased 91% from 11 in 2014 to 21 2015, and 21 again in 2016.