OAKLAND (KRON) — Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong on Tuesday addressed the challenges his officers are facing, the day after the city promised to add more officers to the office.
The police chief spoke out after Mayor Libby Schaaf promised to reverse cuts that were planned for the police department next year.
Armstrong addressed the staff shortages in the Oakland Police Department.
“I thank Mayor Schaaf for her proactive approach to assisting the department in helping us identify potential opportunities for resources for additional academies (to hire more officers),” Armstrong said in a press conference Tuesday.
The Oakland Police Department currently has 676 officers — the smallest staff in several years, according to Armstrong.
That is nearly 70 less officers from last year, and Armstrong said it is going to “definitely” have an impact on public safety.
Police chief on death of KRON4 security guard Kevin Nishita
The news conference took place a few days after KRON4 security guard Kevin Nishita was pronounced dead Saturday.
Nishita suffered injuries from gunshot wounds while protecting a KRON4 reporter on assignment in Oakland.
Armstrong said he can’t confirm specifically how the incident happened — aside from the fact that multiple shots were fired towards Nishita.
The suspect was seen in a 2004-2008 white Acura TL.
Authorities are still investigating the homicide.
Social media and its use to organize crimes throughout city
Oakland has seen a trend of a groups of people, not even from Oakland, come into the city and commit multiple burglaries — people from Vallejo, Fairfield, and Stockton.
There has been as much as 30 burglaries in one minute, according to Armstrong.
Recent weekends have seen armed caravans shooting at police and security guards and at dozens of businesses, mainly cannabis businesses, police said, but also pharmacies and retail shops.
Authorities said the use of social media is how these individuals are coordinating to commit these crimes.
The department’s response is to have officers track crimes with the help of social media.
“I think (social media) is being used to recruit, to advertise, to brag — if you would. I believe these groups are very coordinated,” Armstrong said. “That’s why we have deployed specific officers to track on social media to try to prevent those things from happening.”
Latest numbers on Oakland homicides
Armstrong began the press conference with a moment of silence in memory of the victims who have died from violent crimes in the city.
The city saw it’s 127th shooting death this year on Sunday, even with the addition of tactical teams over the holiday weekend to support patrol officers responding to an increase in violent crimes.
The department has made 10 homicide arrests in the month of November.
The 10 arrests come from homicide incidents that date back to as early as August.
Bay City News contributed to this report