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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.

automatic weapon and pistol

Two illegally possessed weapons recovered by North Oakland’s CRT 2, under Toribio’s direction.

“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.”

Top image: One of the firearms recovered by North Oakland’s Crime Reduction Team.
All photos provided by OPD.


  1. Len Raphael on September 23, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    46 percentage increase in armed robberies seems low. Feels more like 400 pct.

    Did Capt. Toribio say where these assault rifles were or would possibly be used? Only hear of handguns are used in street robberies. Have any been reported used in house burglaries? That leaves drive-bys and other gang on gang attacks which is how common in North Oakland in the last year?

    Also not clear how gang crime oriented teams would be effective against the seemingly lone wolf street criminals.

    While I don’t expect specific info, would be helpful to know that OPD is on the same page as the priorities of North Oakland community.

    • Len Raphael on September 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      Monday 9/23/13 via Nixl alert “An armed robbery occurred this morning of several persons gathered for carpool pick-up shortly after 9:00am near the intersection of Hudson Street and Claremont Avenue. The suspects parked nearby and robbed their victims of bags and electronics at gunpoint. Based on descriptions obtained during our preliminary investigation, officers safely located and detained a possible suspect vehicle and occupants. Understanding the amount of concern this incident and other incidents of robbery cause to Area 2 community members, we will update the status of this investigation to you when possible.”

      Looks like the bad guys haven’t gotten the message about more cops.

    • Lt. Chris Bolton on September 24, 2013 at 7:24 am

      Most arrests and recoveries have occurred as the result of surveillances and officer observations while in Area 2 crime trend hotspots or NCPC priority project areas. One observation leads to another and recoveries are made as cases develop.

      As far as team effectiveness is concerned, there are known relationships between gangs and robbery activity in Area 2, and focus of the team is not only gangs: in the first few weeks of operations, various crime – including child prostitution, narcotics sales and robberies have been the subjects of daily focus.

      • Phillip Fitzwater on September 24, 2013 at 9:37 pm

        Thank you Oakland police for finally responding to the rash of crime in Rockridge. I have lived here for over 25 years and this is the worst that I have ever seen. It really means a lot to us to have a little attention at long last.

        Thanks so much and we hope to see a lot more of Oakland PD on our streets. We love you guys.

      • Len Raphael on September 26, 2013 at 12:51 am

        Lt Bolton, great to hear crime is dropping but most residents have a very different point of view on that. Could just be when Oakland stays up on the top ten national crime lists for as long as it has, even a big reduction in some crime categories, is just not enough to improve our lives.

        There is a tipping point for Oakland middle and upper middle income residents on crime. Took years but it came.

        Watching the rapid spread of private patrols in the middle and upper middle income parts of town, is to see that when crime in your backyard gets really really bad and endless politician promises, 100 block plans, Measure Y, Ceasefires, and hand wringing and hiring Bill Bratton doesn’t make a difference, residents who can, will act to very directly reduce crime.

        Now if same residents would spend just a small fraction of that energy on demanding that the politicians take effective action to reduce crime in the rest of town. That would be something that would benefit all of us.

        info on private patrols

  2. Joanne Dickerson-Harper on September 23, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    As a native Oaklander and resident of the same neighborhood for over 60 years, I am glad to hear that the North Oakland area will be getting a team devoted to robberies even for half time. Neighbors should still help by keeping their “eyes open” and calling the police.

  3. James Zellers on September 23, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Lauren Hamilton
    Rockridge North/West
    I was starting to lose track of all the armed robberies over the last few days, so I synthesized them here.

    I know there is a discussion of private security, but I thought it was worth noting there is a pattern around from 9-9:30PM. Of course, there are brazen AM ones as well, but I’m going to wrap up any outdoor activity by 9PM for the near future.

    1. Armed robbery occurred in the 5800 block of Howell St 9/19/2013 at 9:20 P.M. One suspect armed with a firearm robbed one in victim fled in a vehicle with the loss; not in custody. No injuries.

    2. Armed robbery 400blk 61st St on 9/20/2013 at 9:00 P.M. One victim self-transported to a local hospital in stable condition. One suspect armed with a firearm, pistol whipped victim not in custody fled without loss.

    3. Armed robbery 9/21 10:10 am 61st and Colby, two young (17-21?) African-American men entered our office, and after a minute or two of pretending like they were looking for a “design office”, one pulled out a handgun.

    4. Armed robbery 5800blk Colby St 9/21/2013 at 9:10 P.M. One victim declined medical. Three suspects one armed with a firearm, not in custody fled in a vehicle with the loss.

    5. Armed robbery 5800blk Ayala Ave at 9/21/2013 9:15 P.M. One victim no medical. Two suspects one armed with a firearm, not in custody fled in a vehicle with the loss.

    6. Armed Robbery. Casual Carpool. Hudson/Claremont on 9/23/2013. Just before 9AM. Shared with Rockridge North/West only in Crime & Safety

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  4. len raphael on September 23, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    There is no way the year to year increase of armed robberies has only been 46% in North Oakland. Ask Capt Torribio for the complete list to check completeness.

    • Lt. Chris Bolton on September 24, 2013 at 7:09 am

      Len, we share those stats on our new Area 2 website and Area 2 Twitter on a weekly basis. The year to date increase as of last Friday was 18%. Since June, when Capt. Toribio and his command team were put in place, the daily average of robberies has fallen 57%. Much more work is needed, but the progress is promising. You have a highly dedicated and talented team of officers working for you in Area 2. -Chris

      • len raphael on September 25, 2013 at 12:22 am

        Lt. could it be that the mix and distribution of robberies has changed greatly in last 6 months, making that 46% figure accurate overall but not indicative of say the Lower Rockridge beat?

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