More police patrols for East Oakland after homicides spike
on January 4, 2022
This month, the Oakland Police Department will shift 48 officers to East Oakland and implement a new patrol plan in a section of the city that has been hit hardest by a sharp increase in violent crime.
In a year-end news release, the department reported that it investigated 134 homicides in 2021, the most since 2012. Homicides were up 30% from 2020 and shootings were up 21%.
“Many of the homicides and shootings involved gang and group members and conflicts,” the release said.
As shootings climbed, Chief LeRonne Armstrong, who was put in charge of the department last year, reassigned six investigators to the homicide section. The department said that enabled police to clear more cases — going from a 33% homicide clearance rate in October to 47% at year’s end. Nearly 60 people were arrested in those homicides, the release said.
“With continued support from community members, city leaders, and Oakland Police Commission, we look forward to a unified effort in making Oakland a safe city,” the department said in the release.
Both Oakland and Alameda County declared gun violence a public health crisis last year, in the hopes of speeding up the process of securing money from the American Rescue Plan, which passed in March.
Also in March, the City Council approved an 18-month pilot program that is now being implemented in East and West Oakland, in which certain 911 calls are turned over to a team of trained civilian responders, rather than to police.
“This is where most of our underserved community members are specifically located,” Fire Division Manager Vena Sword-Ratliff said.
The Fire Department is running Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland, which responds to calls regarding such things as mental health crises and public intoxication.
Some in the community were disappointed that the MACRO teams, which include an EMT and a case intervention specialist, will only operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sword-Ratliff said the program eventually will expand citywide and be active around the clock.
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