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Gun violence skyrockets in Alameda during pandemic

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ALAMEDA, Calif. (KRON) — A dramatic spike in gun violence in the city of Alameda — a disturbing trend the police department is working to control.

The Alameda City Attorney’s Office says it has made prosecutions of any violent or gun related crimes a priority.

This as the city is in the midst of a rapid rise in criminal activity.

Interim Police Chief Randy Fenn says property crimes are down significantly compared to last year — especially burglaries.

Assaults are also down nearly 19%, but robberies have increased more than five-and-a-half percent, and the use of firearms is escalating.

“I think this is a societal issue,” Fenn said. “Why have we come to this point where so many of our grievances are settled with gunfire.”

For two years — from 2018 to 2019, there were 10 reported shootings in the City of Alameda.

And there were none for the first five months of this year.

But that changed on June 1. Since then, 14 shootings have been reported citywide.

Chief Fenn believes there’s a direct correlation to the pandemic.

Jail sentences have been shortened and criminals have been released early from jail and allowed back on the streets because of the ongoing health emergency.

“As society evolves, we have to evolve with it, because criminals evolve as well. So, we have to keep up,” Fenn said. “So, yeah, we’re trying to find a way to police in 2020 that maybe we didn’t just as recently as 2019.”

So far, none of this year’s shootings have turned deadly.

The police department has also made arrests in five cases.

Still, Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is alarmed by the sharp spike in violence.

“If you are experiencing personal crisis, mental health issues, there’s so many different ways that you can seek help,” Mayor Ashcraft said. “In Alameda, the Alameda Family Services Agency is a great place to start.”

Both the mayor and chief agree that more positive personal interactions between officers and community members will do everyone some good and help build trust.

A challenge during a time we are all being asked to keep our distance from one another.

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