OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — In response to the recent attacks happening in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood, the police created a new community liaison position within the department.
That person’s role is to bridge the gap between language barriers and help the community with crime reporting.
“When they are trying to report it, they are having language issues. They were even afraid to call. After they called, many of them hung up,’ said Carl Chan, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce president.
As Chan explains — merchants and residents in Chinatown have trouble reporting crimes due to language barriers, fear of retaliation, and long wait times.
While many crimes go unreported, several gut-wrenching attacks in the neighborhood, recently caught on surveillance video, are stirring widespread attention.
In one incident, a 91-year-old man was shoved to the ground.
In another, a 71-year-old woman was robbed and attacked; not to mention, other robberies were also caught on camera just days prior.
That’s why Oakland police created two new roles within the department — a community liaison officer for Chinatown and Fruitvale.
The department introduced the two officers on Wednesday.
“These two officers in these communities that are non-English speaking, I think they will bring a resource that doesn’t currently exist,” Chan said. “It will give the community confidence that they can communicate directly with the Oakland Police Department in their own language.”
Chan says the officer could start her new role in Chinatown as soon as Thursday.
He says it’s still unclear if she will be doing foot patrols, but he plans to coordinate meetings between the officer and merchants.
Chan says the police department tried creating roles like this in the past but plans were never followed through over lack of funding. He hopes this position will stick this time.
“Hopefully this time it will be a solid commitment from our leadership and our department so that this person will be permanent.”