Oakland police launch drug crackdown

May 13, 2011 7:19:04 PM PDT
Oakland police are trying to stop a spike in violent crime with dozens of arrests. Operation Spring Cleaning is a street-sweeping operation that will lock-up dozens of people.

Oakland police targeted 50 hotspots for open-air drug trafficking. A month-long investigation led to 68 narcotics arrest warrants as a way to get at violent crime suspects.

"Either involved in shootings, murders or witnesses to very violent crimes as a laser focus we went and targeted these individuals through narcotic enforcement and with the assistance of the district attorney's office, 68 narcotics-related warrants were issued for their arrest," Oakland Police Capt. Ersie Joyner said.

Oakland police say though overall crime is down, homicides are up 13 percent and shootings up 29 percent over last year. They do not know why, but hope Operation Spring Cleaning suspects will tell them.

"Members from the Oakland Police Department homicide section, robbery division and assault section are debriefing individuals who were arrested to see if we can clear any unsolved cases and get a real true analysis from an intelligence standpoint on why we're having a spike in violent crimes," Joyner said.

Police Chief Anthony Batts says the community was very helpful in the investigation leading up to the arrests, a change in the "no snitch" culture.

"When we arrest people like we have now, career criminals, that's doesn't come to fruition, they tell on everybody, they tell on their mothers, their grandmothers, their grandfather and everybody else, but they go out in the community and put out this mythology of no snitching, they tell on each other left and right," Batts said.

Remunda Ashley lives near one of the hotspots and says she worries about the young kids she sees hanging out late at night because they have nothing to do.

"Maybe there's too much going on at home, maybe it's the other way around, there is no home," Ashley said.

The city worked with the schools to identify when and where youth are most at-risk and is starting Friday and Saturday night programs in those places to keep kids off the street.

"By having places we know are safe, we know we're making our young people safer and in the process reducing violent crime in the city," Deputy Maryor Lewis Cohen said.

Batts said to expect more crackdowns like Operation Spring Cleaning as the summer months arrive.

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