The Piedmont Avenue neighborhood is very fortunate in many ways, but especially because its beat cops are so accessible. Every month at least one representative from the police department attends the Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood Improvement League (PANIL) meeting in Piedmont Gardens 11th floor.
Every PANIL (Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood Improvement League) meeting begins with an officer - usually the beat cop - giving a report of neighborhood police activity – purse snatchings, panhandling, robbery, burglaries, car break-ins car theft, etc. – a complete picture of crimes that have happened on neighborhood streets in the past month.
In between meetings, the cops are often visible, frequently driving through the neighborhood or walking down the street. Often, merely the sight of a uniformed fellow is enough to stop a beggar from accosting someone on the sidewalk. Once I saw a disheveled man lying on the steps of an apartment house and flagged down the patrol car. The officers woke him up, checked to make sure he was OK, told him where there was a shelter and offered him a ride there. When I saw a bicycle locked to a No Parking sign for 3 months, I called the local police. They came within a couple of days, removed it and donated it to the Xmas toy drive.
But they are ready to step in when there is an emergency, too. When a man in a car that was stopped by the side of the street didn’t move or respond to knocks on the window, someone called police. They were able to get the door open and ascertain that he was dead. Then they made arrangements for him and his car to be moved. Once the officers had to leave a PANIL meeting early to join a chase in progress on the freeway.
A bar in the neighborhood is having a problem with some customers accosting people, shooting guns and performing other undesirable acts. Since the cops have make a point of unannounced visits, inspections of the premises and otherwise making themselves visible, the number of incidents and complaints has been reduced.
The Oakland Police Department has had some unwelcome criticism the last few years, some of it well warranted. But the Piedmont Avenue guys are doing a good job under some difficult conditions. They deserve to be thanked and recognized. Give them a wave when you see them.