Oakland police chief discusses issues he’s faced, plans for keeping city safe

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Oakland’s new police chief LeRonne Armstrong has a wide range of experience.

This includes everything from being a patrol officer to an investigator in the human trafficking unit.

Now, just one month into the job, OPD’s new chief had a virtual one-on-one interview with KRON4’s Haaziq Madyun about the major issues he has faced and the chief’s plan for keeping the public safe.

Making Oakland safe, protecting and serving, has been this veteran OPD officer’s calling for the past 22-years.

“I feel like I am a part of the community. I feel like I am protecting my community so for me it really is a calling,” Chief Armstrong said. 

The first one-on-one interview with Chief Armstrong comes about a month after he was sworn-in, as it turns out a lot has happened in those four weeks. 

There have been 26-homicides in Oakland in 2021, over 100 shootings, 153 shootings in-which a home or vehicle was struck by bullets.  

Chief Armstrong says his violence reduction strategy involves reallocating resources, focused on reducing violent crime across the city and is already showing results.

“January we had 15-homicides. February we had 8. Last week alone we arrested suspects for homicide-related charges. We’ve also recovered more firearms in the year 2021 than we did at the start of 2020,”  Chief Armstrong said. 

Violent crime in Oakland knows no boundaries. Several highly publicized incidents occurring in Chinatown have garnered national attention with some saying the suspects were motivated by their hatred for Asian-Americans.

“No! The crimes that we’ve investigated, most of which have been crimes of opportunity. The one hate crime was not actually specific to Chinatown. It was a crime that occurred on social media where an individual put out specific threats to the Asain community. That’s what we followed up on as a hate crime,” Chief Armstrong said. 

2021 has also seen an early start to the sideshow season in Oakland.

“I attended some of those sideshows myself and I heard the gunfire,” Chief Armstrong said. 

The chief says due to budget cuts related to COVID-19 OPD lost its sideshow detail.

“When that funding was cut we seen a 1500% spike in sideshow activity in the city of Oakland,” Chief Armstrong said. 

Chief Armstrong says he has personally reached out to the city administrator’s office to see if they can find funding to bring back the sideshow detail. 

In the meantime, his officers are doing what they can to deter sideshows by arresting participants and towing vehicles.

“Our ability to get out their last weekend and prevent sideshow in the city of Oakland, I think, made the entire city safe,” Chief Armstrong said.

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