New North Oakland police team focused on reducing theft, robbery
on September 23, 2013
During the past two weeks, North Oakland has gotten a boost in efforts to fight crime, with an additional “crime reduction team” of six veteran officers patrolling the streets.
Captain Anthony Toribio, who oversees enforcement for North Oakland and the Oakland hills, assembled the crime reduction team (CRT) in an effort to combat a rash of thefts and robberies in the neighborhood. Robberies in North Oakland are up 18 percent in the last year, and are now at a five-year high, with armed robbery in particular seeing a 46 percent upsurge.
The team consists of 6 experienced officers and a sergeant, all hand-picked by Toribio. Instead of normal patrol enforcement, the team acts proactively, concentrating on specific crime trends.
In its first week, the CRT, with help from a gang unit, managed to arrest 23 suspects on felony charges, and also recovered three illegally possessed firearms, two of which were assault rifles.
“They focus on enforcement activities to include buy-bust operations, surveillances, use of informants and they will be responding, at my direction, to emerging crime patterns and trends,” Toribio said.
The city’s current CRTs, six in total, are primarily being used in East Oakland to combat gun violence, but one will now focus on the North Oakland neighborhood for one week out of each month, Toribio said. His ultimate goal is to have the team in North Oakland on a permanent basis.
Frank Castro, chair of the Greater Rockridge Area National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), describes the CRT as “the dream team of police officers for crime reduction in our area.” But he isn’t as optimistic that North Oakland will see a full-time specialized team in the near future, given that Oakland is struggling with a severe shortage of patrol officers. “Nothing is going to change until we get increased staffing,” Castro said.
Still, Castro believes that even a part-time CRT will help make the neighborhood safer.
Toribio, who has been with OPD for 23 years, was interim police chief for less than two days last year, when Chief Howard Jordan resigned unexpectedly, citing medical reasons. Current Chief Sean Whent replaced Toribio as interim police chief last May.
“We couldn’t have done better,” Castro said, “Oakland’s loss in not having [Toribio] as a chief was actually North Oakland’s gain.”
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