OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong says there are plenty of factors triggering the crime.
Repeat violent offenders on the streets, but more importantly, he says he needs people to help people.
Not only officers to help respond to the calls and to possibly prevent it. He also needs more people to speak up.
2021 has been a violent year in Oakland streets. The city has seen 120 murders, and 550 shootings, so far.
“The first thing I think about is that it’s not just a number that it represents so many families that have been impacted by violence,” Chief Armstrong said.
The violence hasn’t been limited to just streets. It’s also plagued by packed freeways.
In May, two teens were killed when someone fired into a party bus on I-580. Earlier this month, 23-month-old Jasper Wu was killed on I-880 when a stray bullet hit the car he was riding in.
“A lot of the gang and group violence finds itself on the freeway when these shootings happen,” Chief Armstrong said.
Armstrong says there are common factors in the violence.
“I think the common thread is that we see a group in gang violence as really being a driver of violence in the city of Oakland,” Chief Armstrong said.
And repeat offenders out on the streets.
“It has to work that the justice department has to work in a way that holds people accountable for committing violence in the City of Oakland,” Chief Armstrong said.
Solving the crimes he says has been a challenge. The department has just a 35% homicide clearance rate — one of the lowest in the nation for a big city.
“In 2019, we had 72 homicides. Our clearance rate was around 50%. We now have 120 homicides and that clearance rate is around 35 percent,” Chief Armstrong said. “It says that we have more homicides but also a small group of investigators and it makes it challenging for them to actually dedicate the time needed to solve these crimes.”
Despite personal, and passionate pleas, Armstrong says he needs more people to help people.
Not just the officers on the streets to respond to and prevent crime. He needs more people to speak up on what they know.
“I think we need to put the safety of our community at the forefront of everything that we do,” Chief Armstrong said.
Despite the challenges, he says his department isn’t giving up on holding those accountable for the violence.
Another high-profile case the department is investigating. The shooting of former OPD Captain Ersie Joyner. Joyner is recovering and out of the hospital but the case is still open.
Police say no arrests have been made.
As for more help, this week, a new academy kicked off with 39 cadets which is the largest number in a few years.