OPD has tools to combat guns, but needs more cops

January 3, 2013 7:15:55 PM PST
Oakland police showed off a new strategy for combating gun violence, but do they have the manpower to make it work? ABC7 News takes a look at one neighborhood that has seen more than its share of shootouts.

At 84th Avenue and Dowling the sound neighbors heard on New Year's Eve was gunshots. The sounds of a gun fight were recorded by ShotSpotter microphones and transmitted along with an exact location to patrol cars on the ShotSpotter response team.

"In this particular case what you saw was an alert came in less than 22 seconds," said Capt. Oakland Police Ersie Joyner.

Police say that quick response led to the arrest of a man armed with a colt assault rifle loaded with a hundred rounds of ammunition.

"It just goes to show given technology, the right amount of resources, and the correct direction we can really make a dent in violent crime," said Joyner.

In fact, two hours after taking the colt assault rifle off the streets, the ShotSpotter team arrested two more men armed with another assault rifle. That one night they had ShotSpotter 200 alerts within two hours.

"If I had more people, I think our chances of apprehending many of those would've been a lot higher," said Joyner.

And that's one of the big challenges facing the department. In 2010, Oakland laid off more than 100 officers. New Year's Eve was the first time the ShotSpotter response team had been on the streets in six months.

"It's great having technology, but if you have the technology and you don't have anybody to respond or respond correctly, we're not going to catch the guys," said Joyner.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan says she wants to build up the force, but residents in the neighborhood say the answer isn't just more police.

"I just think it's bigger than that," said Oakland resident Tajuana Gray. She says gun violence and crime in her neighborhood is a complex problem. "It's going to take more than just police, more of like a rebuilding of Oakland."

Gray talked about more community cooperation with the police. More police who know and understand the people in their patrol areas and more jobs as an alternative to gangs.

Jobs is what the mayor was talking about on Thursday in a closed-door public safety meeting. Quan said she wants 100 officers a year graduating from the police academy and she wants that number sustained over the next five years.