Oakland brings in federal agents to help get illegal guns off the streets
on May 29, 2012
In an effort to get more illegal guns off the streets of Oakland, the city’s police department is now collaborating with the federal government.
Oakland Police officers have been partnering with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on a four-month campaign that targeted robbery crews responsible for much of the violent crime in the city, OPD Chief Howard Jordan said at a press conference on Tuesday morning at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building.
The enforcement operation resulted in the seizure of 92 firearms, Jordan said, along with three kilograms of methamphetamine, two kilograms of marijuana, one kilogram of heroin and a half kilogram of crack cocaine. A total of 60 people have been either federally indicted or charged by complaint.
“We asked for their assistance in our ongoing effort to reduce firearm violence in our city, and they responded,” Jordan said of the ATF.
At the press conference, Jordan was flanked by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, whose office brought the charges, as well as Mayor Jean Quan, US Representative Barbara Lee (Ninth district), Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and ATF Special Agent in Charge Scott L. Thomasson.
Thomasson said ATF agents have been working undercover with OPD officers since February on “organized, covert enforcement operations” that targeted robbery crews that rob places where drug dealers stash drugs and money.
“These were individuals responsible for shootings and most of the violence occurring in the city of Oakland,” Thomasson said. “We tried to identify the worst of the worst criminals in Oakland, and target them.”
Quan said that getting illegal guns off the street has been a priority for her administration. She said people who live in Oakland neighborhoods where most of the violent crime in the city occurs “need a breather”—a reprieve from the violence happening all around them.
Quan praised Jordan for reaching out to the federal government to collaborate. “We now need the community’s help, too,” Quan said. “This group has given the neighborhoods a breather, and the community needs to continue to work with us.”
Lee called the work between OPD and ATF “a model program” and said cities around the country should use it as an example of “how to build collaborative relationships and bring federal resources to the city.”
“I’m very confident that we can ensure Oakland continues to be a great place to live, grow and thrive,” Lee said. “So I have to thank all of you for this effort, and I’m confident it will be sustained.”
Jordan said the operation is ongoing and the next phase will include trying to curb the flow of the illegal gun trade. “Now we know where some of [the guns] are coming from,” Jordan said. “I think the next step is trying to stem them, which will involve a long-term, complex investigation.”
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