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Oakland officials missed application deadline for grant funds to combat organized retail theft

Oakland misses out on grant money to fight organized retail theft
Oakland misses out on grant money to fight organized retail theft 01:46

OAKLAND -- While a number of Bay Area law enforcement agencies qualified to receive millions of dollars in funding to help fight organized retail theft, on Thursday it was revealed that Oakland was disqualified from the application process because they submitted their proposal too late.

The office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that hundreds of millions of dollars would be distributed to multiple cities and counties following a recent vote by legislators. The announcement said $267 million would be spread across 55 cities and counties, with funds allocated to several law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area.  

UPDATE: Oaklanders blast city snafu over application for anti-crime funds

On Thursday, San Francisco officials confirmed that the city would receive a total of $17.3 million in grant funding. Over $15 million will come from the state's Organized Retail Theft Grant Program being administered by the Board of State and Community Corrections for the SFPD along with $2 million for the San Francisco District Attorney's Office from the Organized Retail Theft Vertical Prosecution Grant Program.

The same day, reports surfaced indicating Oakland would not receive any funds from the program after failing to meet deadlines.

"Oakland was disqualified from the ORT Grant Program since they did not submit their proposal by the submission deadline. Oakland said there was technical issues and it wouldn't allow them to submit it before the deadline," explained Tracie Cone with the Board of State and Community Corrections in an email. "It was forwarded to legal and determination from the BSCC's legal counsel [was] 'the City of Oakland did not meet the necessary requirements for a successful application submission and will therefore, not be eligible for funding consideration.'"

UPDATE: NAACP joins chorus of criticism over Oakland's failure to apply for retail theft grant

In addition to San Mateo County and Santa Clara County, Bay Area cities including Campbell, Daly City, Fremont, Modesto, Newark, Palo Alto, San Bruno, San Jose, San Ramon, Santa Rosa, and Vacaville all qualified for funding through the grant application process.

While the announcement from Newsom's office did note that the Alameda County District Attorney's Office was eligible for $2 million after a competitive grant application process for the Organized Retail Theft Vertical Prosecution Grant Program, Oakland officials were unable to complete the application for the Organized Retail Theft Grant Program in time. 

KPIX received the following statement from the City Administrator's office after requesting comment on the reports:

"In early June the City's Economic & Workforce Development Department (EWDD) staff identified the Governor's Real Public Safety Plan grant opportunity and collaborated with OPD and community partners to put together an application. OPD and the community partners timely provided their material. Unfortunately EWDD did not timely complete the submission. 

Obviously this outcome is unacceptable. The City and department are reviewing everything that happened to ensure it does not happen again, and will take appropriate action. EWDD leadership is already implementing internal protocol changes to prevent future issues like this one.

For many years the City has had a decentralized approach to the grants process that sometimes produces challenges like this one. Mayor Thao and the City Council recognized this as a systemic problem and in the two-year budget the Council adopted in June, they invested in a new grants position that will help centralize and streamline the City's grants process, with an eye on specifically preventing future issues like this one. The City Administrator is working with the City's hiring team to expedite the hire of that position now."

The missed deadline is another blow for the East Bay city that has struggled to curb crime while the short-staffed Oakland Police Department remains without a leader since the February firing of Chief LeRonne Armstrong for his handling of of a police misconduct investigation. 

Residents and business owners have called on Oakland officials, including Mayor Sheng Thao, to address public safety and retail crime issues. This past weekend, Thao defended her policies, pointing to efforts to increase law enforcement as well as crime prevention and she rejected the calls to declare a public safety state of emergency.

"Calling for a state of emergency right now, when we are doing everything this would allow for us to do? I mean, let's call it what it is. It's just political theater," Thao said. "And so, for me, I'm about doing the action and doing the work and so this work has already been done. I've already got the investments. On to the next!"

Just days later, the Chair of the Oakland Police Commission issued a statement criticizing Thao after she pointed the finger at the commission over delays in the city appointing a new police chief during an interview on KPIX.  

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