The Oakland police chief laments sobering crime statistics, current murders – “notably dangerous final seven days” – CBS San Francisco
OAKLAND (BCN) – Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong paused for 87 seconds Thursday afternoon during a media briefing in honor of the 87 violent deaths in his city this year.
Armstrong followed the silence he called deafening with more sobering statistics on violence that has continued unabated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were more than 400 shootings in the city that year, nearly 50 percent more than last year, and more than 700 armed robberies, also 50 percent more than last year.
People use stolen vehicles and car thefts to commit robberies, he said. Groups of two and three target unsuspecting community members and rob them. Multiple robberies resulted in shootings, he said.
To curb the violence, Armstrong has sent more officials onto the streets, despite the fact that the department has faced the lowest headcount in years.
“The last seven days have been particularly bad,” said Armstrong.
One man was shot dead in a barber shop and one other person in downtown Oakland, two unlikely locations for shootings.
“Shootings are a real indicator of the increase in violence in our community,” said Armstrong. “To see the shootings have increased 50 percent is really worrying.”
Armstrong said police resources were lacking and the department now had fewer than 700 officers, but he praised their work.
Almost 200 suspected robberies were arrested that year. Nineteen were arrested in August.
That year, 31 murder suspects were charged by Alameda County prosecutors, including seven in August, Armstrong said.
The killings are linked to group and gang violence, human trafficking, robbery, car theft and other serious crimes.
“That presented us with enormous challenges,” he said.
Armstrong said the department remains consistently committed to the ceasefire, a gun violence reduction strategy that has historically reduced shootings and murders.
Armstrong called the community for help. In particular, he asked his family or friends to step in to prevent loved ones from resorting to violence.
“You don’t have to wait for a funeral to give someone flowers,” he said.
Other sobering stats include the 329 carjackings this year, 100 percent more than last year, and the 800+ guns recovered from the streets of Oakland in 2021.
Armstrong said the guns were high-profile guns.
For those who are determined to commit violence, there must be consequences, said the boss.
This has been confirmed by Rev. Billy Dixon, a lifelong Oakland resident, who speaks to young people who may be involved in violence.
But Dixon said to these young people, “When you see me, stop me, talk to me. Let’s have a conversation. Let’s see what we can do. Let’s see if we can get you out of the part of having to participate in violence, having to defend yourself or even picking up a weapon. “
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