Oakland community leaders frustrated after city misses out on millions to fight retail crime

ByLena Howland, Leslie Brinkley KGO logo
Monday, September 18, 2023
Community leaders speak after Oakland misses retail crime grant
Community leaders in Oakland held a press conference after the city missed out on millions of dollars from the state for fighting retail crime.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland community leaders let out their frustrations over a big missed opportunity at a press conference Monday.

The city is getting nothing from a multi-million dollar retail crime-fighting grant from the state after city officials failed to submit the application on time.

RELATED: Oakland loses out on millions in grant to fight retail crime due to missed application deadline

"Oakland got nothing. Let me say it again. Oakland got nothing," said Cynthia Adams with NAACP.

Members of the NAACP met with community leaders at the Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland to discuss why the city of Oakland failed to meet a deadline to get money from the state to fight crime. The NAACP alleged the city may not have negligently just missed the deadline, implying it might have been intentional.

"A decision not to seek the funds. Why would they not seek the funds? Because the money was going to crime prevention in the Oakland Police Department, and there are people in town that prefer that money go to social programs," said Greg McConnell with the NAACP.

Across town at a Port of Oakland press conference at Oakland airport, the mayor fired back.

"I'm furious. I'm frustrated that the city staff missed the deadline but to assume and put out false information that somehow we didn't want to apply for it? That's utter BS. It is absolutely not true at all," said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao.

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The mayor insisted they are putting in parameters, so something like this never happens again calling it a personnel issue and said there will be consequences.

Oakland City Administrator Jestin Johnson told ABC7 News that appropriate action will be taken to address this, but did not say what.

City Councilman Noel Gallo says it's time someone takes accountability and that "someone should be fired over this mistake."

"Well, there's a technical issue," Gallo said. "I mean, it's there's many ways to get around technical issues for that type of level of support, considering the emergency that I have And, you know, I can do it here within my computer system. I can do it at, you know, borrow yours or I can go to Sacramento and get it done. So that for us to be able to miss out on those millions of dollars with the emergency they would have is, you know, you cannot blame the system or we need to take responsibility at the administrative level."

RELATED: San Francisco awarded more than $17M to help fight organized retail crime

"The buck stops with the mayor. She's over Oakland and she needs to be held responsible for this," said Adams.

The mayor redirected the conversation to proactive steps she is taking to address escalating crime with technology. She announces the city will soon be getting 300 surveillance cameras provided by the governor's office that will tag team with similar cameras in neighboring Piedmont and San Leandro. She also says they will soon be launching large drones to track down suspects and are awaiting FAA approval.

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