OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong held a news conference to address recent homicides, the surge in robberies, and the addition of tactical units.
Last week, three more people were killed in Oakland bringing the homicide rate to 127 homicides this year. There were 104 homicides at this point last year. OPD officers have recovered 1,087 firearms so far this year.
The department will have additional staffing to address the increase in violent crime. Several tactical teams will support the patrol officers who are responding to armed caravans, illegal sideshows and other violent crimes.
Chief Armstrong said the officers are continuing to look for a vehicle believed to be used in the deadly shooting of retired Officer Kevin Nishita in an attempted robbery of a news crew last week.
The chief said they are working on strategies to combat the surge in organized retail thefts.
"We are going to be working with public works to add barriers to certain areas that we can cutoff vehicular traffic so that we can prevent these looters from coming in with vehicles and using those vehicles to escape," said Chief Armstrong.
The chief said they hope to address the shortage of officers with the recruitment of lateral transfers, something the department has traditionally not done in the past. A new police academy of 38 is about to graduate with another academy starts. The city will present the council with a new officer hiring and funding plan on Friday that will include at least one additional academy.
The chief says the police have "stood strong" and he believes the city owes a "debt of gratitude" to the officers who are addressing the surge in violence.
"There are 676 officers who come in everyday to make this city safe -- they should be recognized. I hope this community appreciates them. This is a challenging moment for all of us -- and particularly those in the uniform who go out to address this. Please support them."
Advocates for defunding police are afraid adding more patrols wont help the on-going issue.
"We need to be investing in root causes," said Cat Brooks, the founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project. "We need to make sure our community members are housed fed and clothed. We need to be investing more in violence interrupters - interrupting that means the crime doesn't happen in the first place."
She pointed out the comments made in the press conference from the Chief. He said the department staff is currently at 676, just two less the minimum requirement listed in Measure Z that requires Oakland to maintain at least 678 in the police staff.
"That is just two less than the 678 officers that are mandated by Measure Z," she said. "Militarizing police doesn't help. It does not make communities any healthier. We want to get in-front of it. We want a whole holistic, humanitarian effort that is going to really make a pathway to safety for Oaklanders."
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