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OPD meets with residents about crime rate

April 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Members of the Oakland Police Department met with residents of West and North Oakland to talk about what they're doing to fight crime. For the past two years, officers at the Oakland Police Department have had to do more with less, but based on what was said Thursday night, they're dealing with it as best they can.

It's not every day that the top brass of the Oakland Police Department comes to the neighborhood, which is why resident Tonya Love made a point to show up Thursday night, to find out what's really going on.

"I'm getting these reports that there's been robberies with weapons and that makes me feel unsafe, that makes me feel a lot more cautious," said Love.

About a hundred other people showed up at the North Oakland Senior Center to get answers too. It turns out, Oakland did see a spike in robberies and burglaries in the beginning of the year.

"Robberies were 49 percent up and burglaries were 39 percent up," said Oakland Dep. Chief Darren Allison.

But Oakland police say while those numbers may sound alarming, the situation is getting better. They credit their relatively new computer software, CompStat. It keeps track of when and where crime is occurring.

"I can see where the trends are occurring, where the clusters are occurring. I can go really far into it," said Allison.

"This allows us to use officers strategically throughout the city to address crime, so intelligence-based policing," said Chief Howard Jordan

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan spokes as well. She touted her 100-block initiative that's putting more police resources on the blocks where most of the crime takes place.

"What we're trying to do is try some things and be smart about it and see if it makes a difference," said Quan.

Residents we talked to say they appreciate the efforts, but what they really want is for staffing levels to go back to where they were two years ago. There are currently 651 officers. Before budget cuts, there were 803.

"I feel more confident in the methods that they're using. I still think the department is understaffed," said resident Jay Ashford.

"I'm trying to share the chief and mayor's optimism that with better policing and better technology and better data, they can get a handle on it, but there's not enough cops," said resident Kim McCoy Wade.

Quan has advocated putting a parcel tax that would pay for more officers, but that idea has proven to be unpopular. Such a tax would require a two-thirds majority from voters.


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