When it comes to anti-crime plans, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown has tried just about every trick in the book, offering no fewer than 11 crime-busting attacks since taking office in 1999. The latest, Operation Ceasefire — focused on the city’s toughest young criminals — is supposed to help cut Oakland’s out-of-control homicide rate. If it works, it will also help Brown’s campaign to become state attorney general. Getting attention by getting tough has been a favorite tack in Brown’s eight-year law-and-order crusade.
Just two weeks after being sworn into office, Brown broke ground by calling for a Rudy Giuliani-style monitoring of crime to keep the cops on their toes. Three months later, in March 1999, Brown announced Project Exile, which called for criminals with guns to be prosecuted under stiffer federal laws. He has had job fairs for ex-convicts, advocated a curfew for parolees, and conjured up something he called the High Five program, under which at least 30 police officers were pulled from other duties to fight crime in East Oakland. Yet 2006 is on track to be the worst killing year of Brown’s mayoral tenure, and he is pummeled on the Oakland crime issue almost daily by his Republican rival for attorney general, Chuck Poochigian.