To the Editor:

The Oakland Police Department is being threatened with being put under court control ("receivership"), due to its history of abusive behavior. But police work is dangerous! I can easily understand why a policeman would sometimes, in an atmosphere of fear, make a bad decision.

But maybe there is another solution! Where does violence come from? Doesn't most of it revolve around money? Let's assume that it does. There are two possible solutions to the money problem: (1) get more or (2) spend less. There are plenty of people working on the former. Let's look at the latter.

There are many simple ways that homeowners can reduce their expenses: (1) convert incandescent (old-fashioned) light bulbs to compact fluorescents; the latter use far less electricity, as well as lasting much longer; (2) insulate your home, reducing heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer; the gas company and the government will often subsidize this; (3) put all consumers of "vampire power" (appliances that consume electricity even when they are allegedly "off": TV, stereo, microwave, etc.) on switches or power strips, so they can be turned completely off when not used; (4) grow fruits and vegetables (and even chickens, rabbits, etc.) in your own garden, saving on food costs; (5) sell all your motor vehicles and get a bicycle -- bike riding is free; (6) we use too much water for bathing; get wet and turn off the water; then wash and turn the water back on to rinse; this will greatly reduce your water consumption (you may have to convince the water company to base all charges on consumption levels; currently, many charges are fixed, and not proportional to usage).

People who don't own their home, or pay for their utilities directly, should be able to negotiate a lower rent, when they reduce their water and power consumption.

Instead of focusing on the downstream effect -- crime -- let's help each other reduce the cause of crime: the need for money! Maybe the police department would even offer to help! Anything that reduces violence and crime would make their job easier, so they should be willing to help....

Mike Vandeman