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Oakland use of force report, 09/2020: methodology

Raheem Methodology

Raheem was contracted to conduct a three-month study authorized through a unanimous vote by the Oakland Police Commission, the government entity tasked with overseeing the Oakland Police Department’s practices, policies, and customs. All commissioners are Oakland residents, serve in a volunteer capacity, and have no ties to the police. 

Raheem surveyed Oakland residents from July to September 2020, to gauge their previous interactions with Oakland police as well as residents’ views on police use of force and other policing practices. To keep us accountable to the community, Raheem established the Oakland Advisory Council made up of eight extraordinary local Black and Brown-led organizations whose members continue to be impacted by the police. We worked with the Advisory Council to develop a survey questionnaire that included questions about a range of police use of force policy restrictions, alternatives to policing, perceptions of accountability resulting from police use of force, and respondents’ own experiences with policing. 

Raheem conducted two surveys about police use of force: one survey that captures the general public’s opinion and another survey capturing the opinions of people directly impacted by police use of force. Raheem obtained survey responses using the following methods:

Survey of a Representative Sample of Oakland’s General Population

First, we worked with YouGov to field a representative online survey of Oaklanders to better understand citywide opinion on policing issues. YouGov was selected because they have one of the broadest panels of survey respondents in the nation, permitting deep-dive analysis at the city level. They are one of the highest-rated polling firms, according to FiveThirtyEight.com’s pollster ratings

Responses to the survey came from 512 adults living in the City of Oakland between August 22, 2020, and September 1, 2020, producing a survey sample that YouGov weighted according to gender, age, race/ethnicity, and education based on the American Community Survey and the Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplement. Importantly, this representative sample of adults living in Oakland (hereafter referred to as “Representative sample of Oakland’s general population”) includes responses from both registered voters and those who were not registered to vote. This survey’s margin of error was +-6.9. Topline survey data and further methodological details are provided by YouGov here.

Community Survey

To stay accountable to the community, Raheem established and worked in partnership with the Oakland Advisory Council, an assembly of eight Black and Brown-led community-based organizations whose members continue to be impacted by police use of force. To obtain feedback from Oaklanders directly harmed by police use of force, we partnered with the Advisory Council to conduct a community survey using the same questionnaire as the YouGov survey. 

Between July 1, 2020, and September 28, 2020, we obtained 1,394 responses from people living in the City of Oakland. After removing duplicate responses, based on the respondents’ names and email addresses, we identified 1,340 unique responses in our sample. The vast majority of these responses were collected online, with 105 of the 1,340 reports completed on paper. This sample was then weighted by YouGov according to gender, age, race/ethnicity, and education based on the American Community Survey and the Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplement. This survey’s margin of error was +-3.7. Data presented displaying community survey results, including survey data on residents who were directly harmed by police use of force, reflect this sampling methodology.

The Oakland Advisory Council established by Raheem included the following members:

Allyssa Victory, co-chair · ACLU Foundation of NorCal

Angelo Sandoval · The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

James Burch, co-chair · Anti Police-Terror Project

Carolina Martin Ramos, Esq. · Centro Legal de la Raza

Elisa Cecaci · The East Oakland Collective

Isha Rosemond · MISSSEY

John Jones III · Just Cities

John Vasquez · Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice

Canvassing 

Ten Oakland residents selected by the Advisory Council organizations Centro Legal de la Raza, The East Oakland Collective, and Communities United for Restorative Justice were stipended to conduct direct in-person surveying focused on the following four categories of people.

  • People who have directly impacted by police use of force

  • Houseless people

  • Transgender people

  • People living with disabilities

Raheem directed each surveyor to capture 20 surveys (minimum) and provided surveyors with masks, two tablets, blank paper surveys, and a $10 gift card for each person from the four categories above who completed the survey. Between September 1–11, 2020, nine surveyors were dedicated to surveying residents in Districts 6 and 7, and one surveyor was dedicated to surveying the houseless population in District 3.

Reaching People Directly Impacted by Police Use of Force

Respondents from both the representative survey of Oaklanders and the community survey were asked what experiences they had with policing—including whether they had been directly harmed by police use of force, whether they had been directly harmed by police misconduct other than the use of force, and/or whether they knew a friend or family member who had been harmed by police use of force. While 17 respondents to the representative survey of Oaklanders indicated they had been directly harmed by police use of force, a much larger number of respondents—166 respondents—to the community survey. As such, we used the data obtained from the weighted community survey as the basis for understanding and visualizing the views of those directly impacted by police use of force.

Details of Policing Encounters

Respondents to either survey who indicated they had been directly harmed by police use of force were then asked to complete a follow-up report asking about the details of those police interactions. In addition to these sources, we also developed a digital ad strategy designed to obtain detailed feedback on policing encounters from residents who had recently been arrested or cited by Oakland police to gauge their experiences, including whether they had experienced incidents of police use of force. We distributed ads on Facebook and Instagram from September 2–7, 2020, that asked people if they had any experiences with policing in Oakland that they’d like to report. Using records obtained from Oakland Police Department on 45,920 arrests and citations made by OPD from 2014–2019, we were able to target these ads specifically to people living in Oakland who had the same full name and date of birth as those arrested or cited by Oakland police. These ads reached 7,052 people based on this targeted methodology, leading to 32 additional reports from people detailing encounters with police with 24 of these reports naming OPD specifically as the agency involved and 10 reports where the respondent reported being “physically attacked” by Oakland police. Between these various methods, we obtained a total of 121 reports detailing police encounters during the study period.

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