OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – The deadly weekend crime wave in Oakland brings attention to the police department, which the police chief says was overwhelmed on the Fourth of July.
Still, community activists and city leaders say the answer is not adding more cops.
City Councilmember Noel Gallo says Oakland’s continued rise in violent crimes has nothing to do with the police department’s budget.
“We didn’t defund the police. All we did was transfer some responsibility to other departments,” Councilmember Gallo said.
Namely, the department of violence prevention for which the city council recently approved the tripling of that department’s funds, as well as expanding the fire department’s civilian crisis response team.
Gallo says focusing on preventing crimes will make Oakland a safer place.
In the meantime, he says police have the resources they need to fight crime.
Despite the police chief sounding the alarm using the Fourth of July as an example of how strapped his agency is, stating his department was overwhelmed that day with six shootings, a massive sideshow and fires, most fireworks-related calls did not receive responses.
“It’s getting worse because we are allowing it to get worse from the community and to the lack of enforcement. I mean, those are — let’s be straight about that,” Gallo said.
Last month, the city council approved a six-percent budget increase for the police department.
While also redirecting about $18-million of the mayor’s initial police budget proposal to the department of violence prevention.
A move members of the council say will not decrease staffing levels for at least a year.
Oakland resident and co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, Cat Brooks, says years of community neglect has played a major role in the violent crime spike.
“Prevention means to stop — right? Prevention means before. Prevention means we get to the gun before the bullet flies, then we’re going to see an impact. I’m not going to lie — it’s going to be a rocky road. Nobody can definitively say with just one year of data, why we’re seeing this spike in crime — nobody. If you hear somebody telling you it’s because of defund, they are lying to you, because that hasn’t happened yet and it’s actually not gonna happen. What we do know is that our community is hurting and wounded, and the person that’s the perpetrator today can be the victim tomorrow, and vice versa. If we don’t address the harm in our folks, and we can right now, we can start doing that right now. If we don’t address the economic opportunity, if we don’t address all of these things, we’re just doomed to keep repeating the same failed cycle,” Cat Brooks said.
A cycle Oakland residents are familiar with.